Bobby Gould, the manager of Wales, praised his side for their passion and heart after they had ended their ill-starred European Championship campaign with a hard-earned draw in Tirana.
Wales recovered from conceding a fifth-minute penalty, converted by Sokol Kushta, to draw level before half-time through Mark Pembridge's second international goal. "They did get at us at the start of the second half but we've got to take a great deal of heart from the way we played," Gould said. "Everybody gave their best. Although I wanted to win, because I'm a winner, it's a sound result."
Pembridge, the 24-year-old Sheffield Wednesday midfielder, gave a non- stop display and was on hand to take advantage of a piece of brilliance by Ryan Giggs to head home just before the break. Southall saw both his post and bar struck but, as the game wore on, the Welsh looked the better- balanced team and could have claimed a win.
Gould must have been delighted at the final whistle as his patched-up side, with Gareth Taylor making his debut and Robbie Savage and John Robinson coming off the bench near the end to earn their first caps, held on to earn a draw.
Inside the first minute Neville Southall was beaten by a free-kick from Ledio Pano which crashed against his upright, and four minutes later the Welsh were behind. The Wolves defender Eric Young, back in the Welsh team after a 20-month absence, allowed the speedy Kushta to nip past him and race into the box, and his only response was a scything foul.
The Israeli referee pointed straight to the penalty spot and Young must have been relieved not to receive a card of any colour for what appeared a professional foul. Kushta got up to take the kick himself and although his first successful conversion was ruled out for encroachment, he made no mistake second time around, sending Southall the wrong way.
Wales battled back well, though, and equalised in the 41st minute. The goal owed much to the quick thinking of Dean Saunders, who took a throw down the left, but even more to the class of Giggs. The Manchester United man raced into space before picking out Pembridge's perfectly timed run and the midfielder headed home confidently.
Two minutes into the second half Southall was just a spectator as an acrobatic volley from Altin Rraklli thumped against the bar, but after that Wales recovered their poise. They had two goals disallowed, while Giggs missed two good chances. The draw ensured Wales finished above the Albanians in fourth place in Group Seven, thanks to their win in Cardiff last September.
ALBANIA: Strakosha; Zmijani, Shulku, Dema (Milori, 84), Vata, Lekbello, Kushta (Bushi, 58), Malko, Bozgo (Zalla, 79), Rraklli, Pano.
WALES: Southall (Everton); Jenkins (Huddersfield), Bowen (Norwich), Phillips (Nottingham Forest), Young (Wolves), Melville (Sunderland), Taylor (Crystal Palace), Pembridge (Sheffield Wednesday), Saunders (Galatasaray), Hughes (Luton), Giggs (Manchester Utd). Substitutes: Savage (Crewe) for Hughes, 63; Robinson (Charlton) for Taylor, 84.
Referee: D Suheil (Israel).Reuse content