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Page last updated at 18:51 GMT, Sunday, 23 May 2010 19:51 UK

Croatia 2-0 Wales

Wales struggled to cope with the class of the likes of Tottenham Hotspur's Luka Modric
Wales struggled to cope with the class of the likes of Luka Modric

A dogged but depleted Wales were no match for classy Croatia in a friendly at Osijek's Stadion Gradski vrt.

Wales, missing 15 players, gave Andy Dorman a first start and blooded four more first caps from the bench.

The home side's superior experience and technical ability told, Ivan Rakitic lobbing Wayne Hennessey for the opener after a one-two with Nikica Jelavic.

Wales held on until the 82nd minute, Luka Modric freeing Drago Gabric with a superb ball that he calmly finished.

Croatia were missing Champions League finalists Ivica Olic and Danijel Pranjic, as well as injured Arsenal striker Eduardo, but still boasted a powerful line-up.

Wales manager John Toshack gave St Mirren midfielder Dorman his first cap in a 5-3-2 line-up, the squad having travelled to Croatia's fourth city with just 17 players.

The unfamiliar team competed well in a fast opening on a surface made heavy by torrential afternoon rain, although the best early chance fell to the home side.

Outstanding captain Dario Srna lined up a free kick 10 yards outside the visitors' box, the midfielder firing dangerously over Wayne Hennessey's crossbar.

Wales set Simon Church free down the right, the Reading front man powering into the box but failing to find strike partner Rob Earnshaw with the crucial ball.

Croatia's Dejan Lovren challenges Wales' Rob Earnshaw in their friendly in Osijek
Dejan Lovren challenges Rob Earnshaw

A long ball over the top from Srna freed Jelavic, who controlled superbly and slotted the ball past the out-rushing Hennessey, only to see it bounce just wide of the post.

Wales hit straight back, a Chris Gunter cross from the left into a crowded box looking to have been touched home by Church, the effort ruled out for offside.

Croatia felt they were denied a penalty after a Modric surge into the box.

His cut back from the dead ball line struck the covering Ashley Williams' hand, but appeals to the referee proved in vain.

As the pressure increased, a Srna cross from the right was met by Mario Mandzukic, whose looped header went just over the bar.

Mladen Petric's 40-yard free kick fired wide of Hennessey's left post, but the peppered keeper could not keep his line intact before half-time.

Croatia's technical ability shone, Rakitic playing a one-two with Jelavic on the edge of the box before launching a sublime lob over Hennessey, who had strayed a couple of yards off his line.

Earnshaw had a chance to equalise with the last kick of the half, but the Nottingham Forest striker's free kick went over the bar.

Toshack replaced Hennessey with Boaz Myhill at the break, the new keeper only able to watch as Croatia's pressure grew.

More delightful inter-play culminated in a Gabric back-heel to free Modric on the edge of the box, the Tottenham Hotspur man blazing over the bar.

Mark Bradley and Neil Taylor came on for their first caps, the Walsall midfielder and Wrexham defender emergency call-ups from Wales' Under-21 squad this week.

Croatia celebrate their victory
Croatia celebrate their victory

Williams - in his second game as captain after Craig Bellamy's withdrawal - needed to use his experience to clear a dangerous attack involving Modric and Srna in the box.

Reading striker Hal Robson-Kanu and Bristol City defender Christian Ribeiro became Wales' fourth and fifth new caps of the match, the pair also having been brought in from the U21s this week.

A fine Bradley volley was accidentally blocked by Lewin Nyatanga in a crowded Croatian box, the rebound leaving David Edwards one-on-one with the keeper before the offside flag halted the Wolves midfielder.

A looped header from substitute Sam Vokes caused Stipe Pletikosa some consternation in the Croatia goal, but it was rare relief for Wales.

More sublime play from the home side culminated in a Modric midfield pass that scythed open the dogged Welsh defence, the ball finding Gabric on an angled run.

The Trabzonspor midfielder was left one-on-one with Myhill and was calmness personified as he slotted home from inside the box.

The match was the second between the two countries, the first - also in Croatia - ending in a draw.

Wales have just one more friendly - at home to Luxembourg on 11 August - before the start of their Euro 2012 campaign in Montenegro in September.


Croatia: Pletikosa, Strinic, Simunic, Lovren, Srna (Vida 75), Rakitic (Pokrivac 76), Vukojevic (Dujmovic 65), Mandzukic (Badelj 90), Jelavic (Bilic 46), Petric (Gabric 46), Modric.
Subs Not Used: Subasic, Schildenfeld, Cale, Vucko.

Booked: Lovren.

Goals: Rakitic 45, Gabric 81.

Wales: Hennessey (Myhill 46), Ricketts, Williams, Nyatanga, Gunter (Ribeiro 81), Edwards, Morgan, Stock (Bradley 57), Dorman (Taylor 62), Church (Vokes 71), Earnshaw (Robson-Kanu 72).

Booked: Earnshaw.

Att: 12,000

Ref: Slavko Vincic (Slovenia).



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see also
Wales absences disappoint Toshack
23 May 10 |  Welsh
Wales' sporting weekend in photos
20 May 10 |  Wales
Pick your Wales XI
05 Feb 07 |  Welsh
Welsh football history
25 Mar 10 |  Welsh
Wales' international fixtures
22 Aug 07 |  Welsh
Wales' results archive
10 Oct 05 |  Welsh
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales
Croatia country profile
23 Jan 12 |  Country profiles


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