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banner Wednesday, 13 February, 2002, 23:26 GMT
Wales denied by Cruz control
Wales striker Craig Bellamy scores against Argentina
Craig Bellamy leaps to head home Wales' goal
Wales 1-1 Argentina

Wales, ranked 101st in the world, produced a performance to delight their fans by drawing an exciting friendly match against visitors Argentina in Cardiff.

Newcastle striker Craig Bellamy, putting his off-field troubles behind him, struck in the first half to give the home side a deserved lead, but Julio Ricardo Cruz drew Argentina level after the interval.

Wales manager Mark Hughes will have been delighted with his team's performance.

The intelligent running of Ryan Giggs and Bellamy and the physical presence of Celtic striker John Hartson always caused problems.

Wales' Robbie Savage challenges Juan Sebastian Veron
Robbie Savage won the man-of-the-match award

The Millennium Stadium had some 62,500 fans inside, with the roof closed so Argentina could experience conditions similar to those they will encounter in the World Cup in June.

But Wales were not prepared to let the South Americans showboat.

Robbie Savage - who won the man-of-the-match award - was booked for an early foul on Juan Sebastian Veron, Giggs' Manchester United colleague.

Wales fought their way back into the game and when Mark Delaney was clattered by the impressive Juan Pablo Sorin on 29 minutes the home side had their first shot on target.

Soon after, Sorin had to drag back Simon Davies after a delightful quick passing move had put the Spurs youngster away.

This time Giggs' free-kick was deflected over the crossbar - but the goal arrived from the resulting corner.

Giggs curled the ball in and Bellamy stunned the Argentines with a fine header at the far post that left goalkeeper Diego Saja well beaten.

Wales' Ryan Giggs and Argentina's Juan Veron club together
Manchester United team-mates Giggs and Veron share a joke

Welsh confidence grew and Hartson could have doubled their lead before half-time when a quick-fire move between Bellamy and Davies set up the big striker, only for his first-time volley to flash wide.

Hartson went close again after the break, with Saja hurling himself to save at the Wales striker's feet after he had been put through by Giggs.

A minute later Riquelme combined superbly with Veron to set up the Manchester United man for a first-time shot just over the angle.

Mark Crossley - brought on in goal at half-time for Jones - then had to save bravely at Canigga's feet as Argentina started to increase the tempo.

The extra urgency from the visitors paid dividends on 61 minutes when Cruz pounced to pull them level.

No sooner had Giggs been replaced by John Robinson than a precision pass by Veron found Bologna striker Cruz unmarked inside the Wales penalty area to fire home.

Argentina's Julio Cruz is congratulated by Claudio Caniggia after scoring
Julio Cruz is congratulated on his equaliser

There were chances for both sides to win the game.

The pick of them fell to Bellamy - but after Davies had helped on a Hartson knock-down, the Newcastle striker hit the side netting from a tight angle.

Veron sent a low free-kick just wide of Crossley's right-hand post in injury time, while Saja caused late heart palpitations for Argentina by spilling a cross.

But Wales will have ended the match happier with the draw against the World Cup favourites.

Wales: Jones, Delaney, Speed, Melville, Page, Pembridge, Savage, Bellamy, Hartson, Davies, Giggs.
Subs: J Robinson, Barnard, C Robinson, Trollope, Edwards, Haworth, Gabbidon, Crossley.

Argentina: Saja, Chamot, Sorin, Vivas, Husain, Placente, Caniggia, Riquelme, Cruz, Veron, Kily Gonzalez.
Subs: Bonano, Dominguez, Cambiasso, Aimar, Galletti, Quiroga, Saviola, Solari.

Referee: Paul McKeon (Ireland).

BBC Sport's Ron Jones
"A tougher workout than Argentina may have expected"
Wales boss Mark Hughes
"The lads were very brave tonight"
Wales scorer Craig Bellamy
"They're a great side but we did ourselves proud"
Wales midfielder Robbie Savage
"I said I was going to enjoy it"
Other top World Cup 2002 stories:

Links to more World Cup 2002 stories are at the foot of the page.


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