A SPIRITED performance by Wales in Ostrava yesterday kept their hopes of World Cup qualification alive.
Mark Hughes's superb first-half goal put them ahead in a country where they had lost on all five previous visits. And though they conceded an equaliser eight minutes before half-time Terry Yorath's makeshift side kept their composure and fully deserved a point in the Group Four game against the disappointing Representation of Czechs and Slovaks.
'I'm delighted with a draw when you take into consideration the heat here over the last few days and the noise outside the hotel,' Yorath said. 'The players have not had a decent night's sleep since they've been here.'
Wales, without the suspended Eric Young and Mark Aizlewood and the injured Kevin Ratcliffe and Gary Speed, brought in Kit Symons and Andy Meville into defence, plus Manchester United's Clayton Blackmore for his first senior game after nearly seven months out with a hernia.
The reshuffled side settled well against a team that had won only one of their last 11 games. Ryan Giggs just missed a Saunders cross early on, and Neville Southall pulled off a fine save from Kuka's header before they took the lead in the 28th minute. Giggs found Hughes in the box, and Hughes jinked past a tackle before shooting low for his third goal in his last five games for Wales.
The Czechs were level nine minutes later as their most dangerous player, Lubos Kubik, found Radoslav Latal on the edge of the box from a free-kick. The striker turned Blackmore and he shot past Southall.
Wales recovered their morale for the second half, and escaped when Kuka shot wide after Dean Saunders had been dispossessed. 'The rest of the game was a bit of a backs-to-the- wall job and our defence was magnificent,' Yorath said. Welsh celebrations were marred as the police waded into their fans at the end in a mini- baton charge, although the situation quickly calmed down.
RCS: Kouba; Novotny (both Sparta Prague), Glonek (Ancona), Vrabec (Sparta Prague), Kadlec (Kaiserslautern), Nemecek (Toulouse), Nemec (Sparta Prague), Kubik (Metz), Kuka (Slavia Prague), Luhovy (Inter Bratislava), Latal (Sigma Olomouc). Substitutes: Bejbl (Slavia Prague) for Glonek, 66; Dubovsky (Slovan Bratislava) for Nemec, 88.
WALES: Southall (Everton); Phillips (Norwich), Bodin (Swindon), Melville (Oxford), Symons (Portsmouth), Blackmore (Manchester United), Horne (Everton), Saunders (Aston Villa), Rush (Liverpool), Hughes, Giggs (both Manchester United). Substitutes: Bowen (Norwich) for Bodin, 52.
Referee: J Quiniou (France).Reuse content