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Page last updated at 20:28 GMT, Friday, 8 October 2010 21:28 UK

Euro 2012 qualifier: Wales 0-1 Bulgaria

By David Dulin
BBC Sport Wales at the Cardiff City Stadium

Ivelin Popov celebrates his goal for Bulgaria against Wales in Cardiff
Ivelin Popov celebrates his goal for Bulgaria against Wales in Cardiff

Brian Flynn's first game in charge as caretaker-manager ended in defeat to Bulgaria and left Wales' Euro 2012 qualification hopes in tatters.

Ivelin Popov grabbed the only goal three minutes after the break when he broke clear and fired in off the post.

Martin Petrov, Stiliyan Petrov and Blagoy Georgiev all had chances saved by Wales goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey.

Steve Morison was twice denied at the other end by Nikolay Mihaylov, while Chris Gunter was sent off late on.

Wales have now lost their opening two Group G games and face Switzerland in Basel on Tuesday, hoping to get what is already looking like a doomed campaign underway.

It will be Flynn's last chance to convince the Football Association of Wales that he is the right man to succeed John Toshack in the Wales hot-seat on a permanent basis.

Flynn had said in the build-up that Wales would have a "licence to thrill" against Bulgaria and they looked lively in the early stages with Gareth Bale posing a real threat.

But it was Nottingham Forest defender Gunter who could have delivered the perfect start, firing a low shot just inches wide.

It was almost all undone just moments later when captain Ashley Williams was dispossessed by Popov.

The Gaziantepspor midfielder then freed Bolton's Martin Petrov, who forced Hennessey into a fine save with a powerful left-footed drive.

Wales passed the ball around neatly but found it difficult to break Bulgaria down and also had to deal with the tricky Popov and Georgi Peev as things turned scrappy.

But in the closing stages of the first half it was Petrov who found himself free on the edge of the Wales penalty area to blast over.

It seemed to spark a little life into the game as Wales went down the other end and Bale, six yards out, could not connect with Joe Ledley's left-wing cross.

Then in first-half stoppage time Steve Morison, winning his third cap, forced Bulgaria keeper Mihaylov into his first save, pushing away the Millwall striker's downward header from close range.

Wales were almost opened up straight after the restart when they failed to deal with Peev's cross and Gunter had to dive in to block Martin Petrov's shot with his head.

But three minutes in they were behind, after again failing to deal with a cross and Popov nipped in to fire home off the post.

Wales defender Chris Gunter shows his frustration against Bulgaria
Wales defender Chris Gunter shows his frustration against Bulgaria

Wales were under pressure and Hennessey had to be at full stretch soon after to turn Styliyan Petrov's 30-yard effort away for a corner.

And then it was the turn of Martin Petrov to have a go but he could only skew his shot well wide from the edge of the box.

Wales should have been level nine minutes later when Morison latched on to a long ball over the top and skipped into the box before launching a shot at Mihaylov, who parried it away from danger.

It briefly lifted the home side and Flynn threw on Leicester midfielder Andy King for Ledley, but they seemed to lose the momentum and nearly paid the price.

Bulgaria sent a ball over the top and James Collins pulled back Dimitar Makriev, leaving Georgiev to curl a 25-yard free-kick which Hennessey saved.

Wales chances were by now becoming few and far between and James Collins had a half-chance, directing Bale's free-kick over the bar.

They bombarded the Bulgaria area with deliveries, substitute Hal Robson-Kanu coming closest with a header, but Lothar Matthaus' side held strong.

Bulgaria almost completed Wales' misery at the death when Hennessey had to get his fingertips on Chavdar Yankov's low shot across goal.

Gunter rounded off a disappointing night when he was shown a straight red card for taking out Dimitar Rangelov.


Wales: Hennessey, Gunter, Danny Collins, James Collins, Ricketts, Ledley (King 59), Edwards (Church 68), Williams, Bale, Vaughan, Morison (Robson-Kanu 82).
Subs Not Used: Myhill, Blake, Ribeiro, Crofts.

Sent Off: Gunter (90).

Booked: Ricketts.

Bulgaria: Mihailov, Zanev, Iliev (Vidanov 37), Bodurov, Ivanov, Peev (Rangelov 72), Georgiev, Stiliyan Petrov, Martin Petrov, Makriev (Yankov 87), Popov.
Subs Not Used: Stoyanov, Angelov, Domovchiyski, Dimitrov.

Booked: Georgiev, Bodurov, Zanev, Martin Petrov.

Goals: Popov 48.

Att: 18,800

Ref: Jonas Eriksson (Sweden).


Wales squad for Euro 2012 qualifier against Switzerland on 12 October in Basel:

Bond (Watford), Cornell (Swansea), Hennessey (Wolves), Myhill (West Brom), D Collins (Stoke), J Collins (Aston Villa), Gunter (Nottm Forest), Ribeiro (Bristol City), Ricketts (Bolton), Williams (Swansea), Matthews (Cardiff), Allen (Swansea), Bale (Tottenham), Taylor (Swansea), Blake (Cardiff) Edwards (Wolves), King (Leicester), Ledley (Celtic), Vaughan (Blackpool), Church (Reading), Doble (Southampton), Evans (Sheff Utd), Morison (Millwall), Robson-Kanu (Reading).



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see also
Euro 2012 qualifiers as they happened
08 Oct 10 |  Football
Williams hurting after Wales loss
08 Oct 10 |  Welsh
Collins takes a swipe at Toshack
05 Oct 10 |  Welsh
Gabbidon quits international game
04 Oct 10 |  Welsh
Pick your Wales XI
05 Feb 07 |  Welsh
Wales' international fixtures
22 Aug 07 |  Welsh
Wales' results archive
10 Oct 05 |  Welsh
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales


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