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Wales boss Mark Hughes
"We can take credit from the way we've performed"
 real 56k

Poland boss Jerzy Engel
"Congratulations should be given to all the players today"
 real 56k

BBC Sport's Ian Brown
"Poland grew stronger by the moment"
 real 14k

banner Saturday, 2 June, 2001, 16:15 GMT 17:15 UK
Wales taught hard lesson by Poles
Nathan Blake
Blake opens the scoring but Poland fight back to win
Wales 1-2 Poland

A glaring miss by Ryan Giggs and Wales' inability to hold on to a lead proved their downfall in the loss to Poland at the Cardiff Millennium Stadium.

Wales were given the ideal start to a match they were desperate to win when Nathan Blake's fourth goal for his country gave the home nation the lead after 13 minutes.

But Wales sat back and failed to keep possession after a bright start and paid the price.

Marek Koziminski was an inspirational figure for Group Five leaders Poland, who equalised in the 32nd minute through Emmanuel Olisadebe.

  Key moments
13 mins: Blake puts Wales ahead
29: Symons clears Koziminski effort from Wales goalmouth
30: Iwan's attempted lob is grateful caught by keeper Jones
33: Olisadebe scores Poland's equaliser
38: Giggs misses with an open goal in front of him
45: Giggs fires wide with an angled shot
46: Jones saves twice from Koziminski
59: Jones saves at close range from Olisadebe
76: Kryszalowicz scores Poland's second

Pawel Kryszalowicz put the visitors ahead after 72 minutes to leave Welsh qualification hopes hanging by the thinnest of threads.

Only Paul Jones's goalkeeping for Wales made sure Poland had to be content with just two goals on an afternoon which had started so promisingly for Mark Hughes' team.

After the referee had allowed play to go on when Giggs was fouled, the ball was played into the Polish area.

Striker John Hartson used his strength to steer a header into the path of Blake, whose left-foot shot squirmed under the body of keeper Jerzy Dudek.

The goal was given despite protests from the Polish players that the ball did not cross the line.

But Wales have struggled to hold on to a lead throughout their qualifying campaign and this occasion was no different.

In contrast, Poland showed why they are top of the group and, even though they were missing several key players, served notice of their threat.

Koziminski was at the heart of their attacks and rounded keeper Jones before seeing his effort cleared from the Welsh goalmouth by Kit Symons.

Koziminski then chipped a ball into the path of Tomasz Zdebel, who tried to unsuccessfully to lob Jones when he might have done better.

Ryan Giggs
Giggs' miss proved pivotal

Wales could not keep possession and were duly punished with a third attack on goal in a five-minute spell.

Tomasz Iwan was found on the right of the Welsh box and his near post cross was converted by Olisadebe.

Wales looked destined to again take the lead in the 38th minute when an incisive move culminated in Blake crossing for the unmarked Giggs.

But the Manchester United winger side-footed wide from six-yards with a gaping goal in front of him.

He tried at atone for his error shortly afterwards but shot wide.

At the other end Jones was forced into a double save from the impressive Koziminski.

The game began to develop into a scrappy affair which threatened to boil over and Giggs became the fourth Welsh player booked midway through the second-half.

That played into the hands of the opposition with Koziminski playing a ball over the top for substitute Kryszalowicz and he shot past Jones to give the visitors the lead.

A minute later Jones saved from Olisadebe to keep Wales in the game and continued to impressively repel the visitors.

Wales next fixture pits them against the Ukraine next Wednesday.


Teams:

Wales: Paul Jones, Symons, Melville, Page, Barnard, Savage, Pembridge, Speed, Giggs, Blake, Hartson. Subs: Matthew Jones, Carl Robinson, Davies, Iwan Roberts, Steve Jenkins, Koumas, Ward.

Poland: Dudek, Klos, Jacek Bak, Michal Zewlakov, Arkadiusz Bak, Hajto, Kozminski, Iwan, Juskowiak, Zdebel, Olisadebe. Subs: Hajdan, Rzasa, Marcin Zewlakov, Pater, Kryszalowicz, Kukielka, Krzynowek.

Referee: Erol Ersoy (Turkey)

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See also:

01 Jun 01 |  Wales
Wales outclassed by Poles
02 Jun 01 |  World Cup 2002
Hughes rues Giggs miss
02 Jun 01 |  World Cup 2002
World Cup round-up
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