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Memorable Welsh football fixtures

Craig Bellamy rounds keeper Gianluigi Buffon to score Wales' winner against Italy

By Peter Shuttleworth

It may feel like the Wales football team is in a constant state of transition these days.

But Welsh fans have enjoyed - and endured - some memorable international moments over the years.

Whether it was Craig Bellamy's winner against Italy in 2002, Paul Bodin's penalty miss versus Romania in 1993 or John Charles and co starring at the 1958 World Cup.

And BBC Sport has opened its extensive archive of the most memorable, whether uplifting or heartbreaking, games in Welsh international football history.


Wales 2-0 Israel
1958 World Cup qualification play-off second-leg
Date: 5 February, 1958

Wales secured safe passage through to the 1958 World Cup finals - still their only major championship finals - with a comfortable win over Israel.

Dave Bowen and Len Allchurch struck as Wales won the first-leg 2-0 in Tel Aviv and another 2-0 win at Ninian Park earned the Welsh a place at the finals in Sweden.

Legendary striker Ivor Allchurch opened the scoring for Wales in the second leg in Cardiff before winger Cliff Jones sealed glory with 10 minutes remaining.

Wales 0-1 Brazil
1958 World Cup quarter-final
Date: 19 June, 1958

Wales caused a World Cup shock by progressing to the quarter-finals in Sweden, beating Hungary 2-1 in a play-off after the two ended level on points in Group C.

The Welsh had earlier drawn against Hungary, Mexico and hosts Sweden before goals from Ivor Allchurch and Terry Medwin helped Wales beat Hungary in the play-off to set up the Brazilian showdown.

Wales were without the injured John Charles and they missed the 'Gentle Giant' in the 1-0 defeat to the eventual champions. The great Pele scored his first international goal in Gothenburg en route to Brazil winning their first World Cup trophy.

Wales 1-1 Yugoslavia
1976 European Championship quarter-final second-leg
Date: 22 May, 1976

Welsh football's class of '76 are often referred to as the forgotten team. They are often overlooked when remembering Wales teams who performed at the highest possible level because this quarter-final clash was not at a major finals.

Wales had lost the first leg 2-0 in Zagreb but Wales improved dramatically in one of the biggest days of Welsh football history as they held the Yugoslavs to a 1-1 draw at Ninian Park.

The visitors took the lead as Katalinski converted a penalty after Malcolm Page fouled Popivoda in the box. A passionate crowd lifted Wales and Ian Evans equalised with his first Wales goal but it could not inspire what would have been a famous comeback.

Wales 3-0 Czechoslovakia
1978 World Cup qualifier
Date: 30 March, 1977

European champions Czechoslovakia were beaten for just the second time in 26 games by European quarter-finalists Wales in a World Cup qualifier in Wrexham.

Leighton James struck twice and striker Nick Deacy scored the other at the Racecourse Ground as the visitors were beaten 3-0.

England 0-1 Wales
1977 Home Internationals
Date: 31 May, 1977

A year later, Wales secured their first - and so far - only victory over England at Wembley.

Leighton James' first-half penalty in the 1977 Home International clash clinched the first Welsh win over their biggest rivals on their home turf since 1936.

Wales 0-2 Scotland
1979 World Cup qualifier
Date: 12 October, 1977

Wales needed a victory against Scotland at Anfield to qualify for the 1978 World Cup finals.

But Welsh football suffered their first glorious failure in a game marred by a controversial Scotland penalty through the infamous Joe Jordan handball incident.

The Scotland striker appeared to handle the ball in the Wales box under pressure from Wales defender David Jones as they challenged for Asa Hartford's long throw - and amazingly to the Welsh players' disbelief, French referee Robert Wurtz awarded a penalty.

Scottish skipper Don Masson calmly slotted home the spot-kick before Kenny Dalglish's late strike settled the tie to send Scotland to Argentina and leave Welsh fans heartbroken.

Wales 4-1 England
1980 Home Internationals
Date: 17 May, 1980

Wales secure a memorable first home victory over England for 25 years at Wrexham in 1980.

Paul Mariner, though, gave England the lead at the Racecourse Ground before local hero Mickey Thomas and striker Ian Walsh gave Wales a half-time lead.

Leighton James, Wales' goal hero in their win over England in 1977, scored Wales' third before England defender Phil Thompson's own goal rounded off a 4-1 win for the hosts.

Wales 1-0 England
1984 Home Internationals
Date: 2 May, 1984

Local boy Mark Hughes' debut goal earned Wales their third win over England in seven years.

The Manchester United youngster's header just 17 minutes into his international debut proved the difference at the Racecourse Ground.

This game in Wrexham in May 1984 would prove to be the final Home Nations Championship meeting.

Wales 3-0 Spain
1985 World Cup qualifier
Date: 30 April, 1985

Wales claimed a historic victory over Euro 1984 runners-up Spain in Wrexham in 1985.

Ian Rush opened the scoring at the Racecourse with a first-half tap-in before strike-partner Mark Hughes' memorable scissors kick goal sent the fans into raptures.

Legendary striker Rush sealed the comfortable win over the giants of world football but Wales failed to qualify for the 1986 World Cup.

Wales 0-0 West Germany
1990 World Cup qualifier
Date: 31 May, 1989

Wales held West Germany to a goalless draw in the first football international to be held at Cardiff Arms Park in 1989.

A year later the West Germans beat Argentina 1-0 to win the World Cup final in Rome.

Wales 1-2 The Netherlands
1990 World Cup qualifier
Date: 11 October, 1989

The star-stubbed Netherlands side beat Wales 2-1 in a 1990 World Cup qualifier in Wrexham.

The reigning European champions took a first-half lead as defender Graeme Rutjes scored his first and only international goal before substitute striker John Bosman doubled the lead after the break.

Wales full-back Mark Bowen scored a last-minute consolation for the hosts at the Racecourse Ground as the Netherlands topped the qualifying group while winless Wales finished bottom.

Wales 1-0 Germany
1992 European Championship qualifier
Date: 5 June, 1991

Wales beat the reigning world champions in a historic evening at the Cardiff Arms Park.

The mighty Germans had a year earlier won their third World Cup crown but Wales caused an international upset to beat the now unified Germany in 1991.

Ian Rush's memorable second-half winner proved the difference but goalkeeper Neville Southall's heroics in goal earned Wales their first win over the Germans.

Wales 1-0 Brazil
International friendly
Date: 11 September, 1991

Wales beat the mighty Brazil for the one and only time in a friendly at Cardiff Arms Park.

Dean Saunders' second-half strike inspired Terry Yorath's men, who had just beaten world champions Germany, to a 1-0 victory over the five-time World Cup winners Brazil in 1991.

It was Brazilian team in transition but football's 'Samba Boys' went on to win the 1994 World Cup.

Wales 1-2 Romania
1994 World Cup qualifier
Date: 17 November, 1993

Wales' 1994 World Cup qualification hopes were dashed in front of a packed and expectant Cardiff Arms Park crowd in their final qualifier.

Victories against Belgium and Germany had turned Cardiff into a fortress but Wales needed to beat a talented Romanian side to qualify for USA '94.

Gheorghe Hagi opened the scoring after an uncharacteristic Neville Southall fumble in the Wales goal but Dean Saunders equalised for Wales.

As Wales poured forward, Romania conceded a penalty but designated taker Paul Bodin will be remembered in Welsh footballing folklore for all the wrong reasons as he hit his spot-kick against the bar with glory beckoning.

The home side never recovered from the crushing blow and Florin Raducioiu's late winner for Romania shattered Welsh dreams once again.

Wales 1-3 Norway
Friendly
Date: 9 March, 1994

Despite leading Wales to within three points of qualification for USA 94, manager Terry Yorath was not kept on as manager.

Instead, the Football Association of Wales appointed John Toshack on a part-time basis.

His first game in charge was a friendly with World Cup-bound Norway at Ninian Park, but a disorganised Wales performace saw the visitors ease to victory and the Welsh fans called for Yorath's return.

Two weeks later, a mere 40 days since his appointment, Toshack resigned.

Wales 2-1 Italy
2004 European Championships qualifier
Date: 16 October, 2002

Mark Hughes' team celebrated one of the most famous nights in Welsh football history as Wales beat four-times World Cup winners Italy in a Euro 2004 qualifier in Cardiff.

Simon Davies opened the scoring with his third goal in three internationals before Alessandro Del Piero levelled for the Italians.

But Craig Bellamy's memorable winner ensured Wales beat a top footballing nation in a competitive game for the first time in 11 years.

Russia 0-0 Wales
2004 European Championships play-off
Date: 15 November, 2003

Wales held the Russians to a goalless draw in Moscow in one of the best Welsh performances of recent times.

Mark Hughes' team hard-fought stalemate in their 2004 European Championship play-off first-leg at the Lokomotiv Stadium made Wales favourites ahead of the second-leg in Cardiff as Welsh fans started dreaming of qualifying for a major championships for the first time since the 1958 World Cup finals.

Wales 0-1 Russia
2004 European Championships qualifier
Date: 19 November, 2003.

Mark Hughes' team suffered one of the most heartbreaking nights in Welsh football as Wales lose to Russia in their Euro 2004 qualifying play-off.

Wales had held Russia to a goalless draw in their first-leg in Moscow and seemed favourites to end their major finals hoodoo and qualify for a championship for the first time since 1958.

But on their home turf, Wales were defeated by Vadim Evseev's first-half winner as the Russians were Welsh football's latest party-poopers at the Millennium Stadium.



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see also
Welsh football history
25 Mar 10 |  Welsh
Wales' international fixtures
22 Aug 07 |  Welsh
Wales' results archive
10 Oct 05 |  Welsh
Ten top Ninian Park memories
22 Apr 09 |  Cardiff
World Cup history - Sweden 1958
04 May 06 |  World Cup 2006
Wales ready to halt run
03 Sep 03 |  Wales
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales


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