Football: Bellamy flies the flag for Gould

Denmark 1 Frederiksen 58 Wales 2 Williams 59, Bellamy 86 Attendance: 44,000
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The Independent Online
AGAINST A background of mounting criticism and recent evidence of yet more disharmony between the Wales manager and his team came a result to still the dissenters and provide new and unexpected belief in the Welsh cause. On this evidence his players are very much behind the beleaguered Bobby Gould.

A victory achieved so dramatically through a firm, guided header by Craig Bellamy, the precocious 19-year-old from Norwich City, with just three minutes remaining was significant in what it means for Welsh prospects in their difficult qualifying group but also because it ends a long search for success on foreign soil in competitive fixtures. The last occasion came in Scotland in a World Cup tie 13 years ago.

So Gould, momentarily at least, can spy a break in the dark clouds that have come to settle over his controversial stewardship. The respite is only brief however, for Wales follow this with a home game against Belarus on Wednesday.

They must continue the conviction they displayed in Copenhagen and an unlikely victory, underpinned by solid defending and outstanding goalkeeping, should lend their football a more positive edge.

Gould described the defeat of the Danes, who reached the World Cup quarter- finals before losing unluckily to the eventual finalists Brazil, as a "dream come true" but then went on to say that at no time had his squad countenanced the possibility of leaving the Parkenstadium empty-handed. It was only his sixth win in 21 games as an international manager and the sweetest by some distance.

"It was a magnificent performance," said a proud Gould afterwards. "We believed there was a victory there for the taking and the commitment and pride the players showed was all I could have asked for.

"All I saw was 14 fantastic Welshmen out there giving everything. They were all heroes. Paul Jones [the goalkeeper] was outstanding, and people like Mark Hughes and Gary Speed found all their experience on the night. It was like going into the lion's den but they defended so well and showed so much resilience.

"When Craig [Bellamy] scored the winner we were all sitting on the bench blowing it over the line."

Gould had to endure "Bobby out" chants from the Wales fans during the second half when his side went behind. But the shouts were shortlived as those same fans erupted in delight at first with the equalising goal and then at the victory. The embattled manager was in defiant mood. "There have been people trying to compromise managers but we have to keep our heads and go forward," he said. "That is our obligation."

Inevitably, Wales had to rely on good fortune on occasion; such was the onslaught by the Danes towards Jones's goal. With virtually the last kick of the game Soren Frederiksen saw his shot beat the Southampton goalkeeper only to ricochet back off the base of the post.

Jones deserved that for the number of times he was there to rescue his team. So did those immediately in front of him, the likes of Chris Coleman, Kit Symons and Adrian Williams, who all raised their reputations and by implication the credibility of the lower divisions from whence they come into the tough proving grounds of the international arena.

The dynamic bursts of the wide Udinese midfielder Martin Jorgensen ensured that the Welsh defence were not able to relax for very long. Coming close twice in the first half, Jorgensen, seen here as the natural successor to Brian Laudrup, grazed the crossbar with a rising drive at the start of the second half. The Danish breakthrough was now not far away and when two yellow shirts competed for the same ball in the Welsh box, confusion set in and Frederiksen steered in the opening goal.

Yet if Welsh hearts sunk then, within a minute they were back on level terms. It was a soft goal that must have made the watching Peter Schmeichel cringe with embarrassment for his replacement Mogens Krogh, who should have gathered Adrian Williams' far-post header following Darren Barnard's in-swinger but allowed it to trickle over the line. Barnard also had a hand in the winner and Bellamy said: "The centre from Darren was excellent. He looked up before sending it in and I knew where it was going. I just kept my cool and watched it coming into the box. It might have seemed to take an age to go in to everyone else but I knew it was there as soon as I headed it."

The only setback on a wonderful night in Copenhagen for Gould was a booking for Speed as he desperately attempted to halt the pacy Jorgensen. It was the Newcastle midfielder's second of the tournament and will rule him out for the game against Belarus.

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