Football: Rush rewards patient approach

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Wales. .2 Cyprus. .0

THE Met Office was not alone in issuing warnings last night. Terry Yorath's side made heavy weather of beating the fractious Cypriots, who had two men dismissed at the Arms Park, but late goals from Dean Saunders and Ian Rush gave notice of Wales's World Cup ambitions.

Victory next month over Romania in their final Group Four qualifier, and a kind result in Belgium, will see Wales through. During the first half news quickly spread through the substantial crowd that Romania had vanquished the group leaders, Belgium, in Bucharest.

Cyprus, though, were determined to spoil the party and packed their defence. Wales waited patiently and Mark Hughes, cunningly set up by Ryan Giggs, set the Principality's collective pulse racing by demanding a smothering save from Andros Petrides after 15 minutes.

Hughes's example, combined with the industry of Barry Horne and the trickery of Giggs, spurred Terry Yorath's side on and Mark Aizlewood tried his luck from 35 yards but his rising drive flew wide. Aizlewood's defensive colleague, Eric Young, came the closest with a huge jump to meet Giggs's corner but his fine header was cleared off the line.

Cypriot time-wasting and lunging tackeles brought yellow cards for Marios Charalambous and Costas Costa while Wales commendably kept control of their tempers and tackling until seconds before half-time, when Aizlewood's challenge on an accelerating Charalambous earned him a booking, a decision that will rule him out of the Romania match. The real transgressors, though, were Cyprus, and it came as no surprise when Costa was dismissed for a second cautionable offence, a late lunge at Gary Speed. Wales, however, struggled to make their numerical superiority tell until the 71st minute. David Phillips's throw fell to Rush whose shot was blocked by Petrides but Saunders was on hand to thump home from 10 yards.

Evagoras Christophi followed Costa off for an ugly challenge on Saunders. But it was another booking which really upset Wales, when Hughes was cautioned, and he will now miss the Romanian match. Rush added emphasis to Wales's superiority with a typical drive past Petrides.

WALES (5-2-3): Southall (Everton); Speed (Leeds United), Aizlewood (unattached), Young (Crystal Palace), Symons (Portsmouth), Phillips (Nottingham Forest); Horne (Everton), Hughes (Manchester United); Saunders (Aston Villa), Rush (Liverpool), Giggs (Manchester United). Substitutes: Goss (Norwich) for Symons, 69.

CYPRUS (1-4-3-2): Petrides (Apoel Nicosia); Christophi (Omonia Nicosia); Costa (Apoel Nicosia), Constandinou (Omonia Nicosia), D Ioannou, Pittas (Xiourouppas, 77); Charalambous, Yiangoudakis (all Apollon Limassol), Larkou (Pezoporikos Larnaca); Sotiriou (Apollon Limassol), Papavassiliou (Newcastle United). Substitutes: Panayi (Anorthosis Famagusta) for Yiangoudakis, 72; Xiourouppas (Omonia Nicosia), 77.

Referee: P Don (Eng).