Bellamy back in spotlight but Wales still lack fizz

Wales 2 Liechtenstein 0

Liechtenstein, that "pub team", as one of their opponents referred to them daftly in the build-up, were duly dispatched here yesterday evening. But this was a decidedly flat performance by Wales, who must relocate their sparkle before Wednesday's examination in Germany. Otherwise it truly could be a long evening on licensed premises for any Welsh fan not making the trip.

In fairness to John Toshack's men, they are never at their best when having to take the game to a side whose ambition does not extend past the halfway line. And there were a few positives, chiefly in seeing Craig Bellamy, their captain and inspiration, in his first competitive international in a year. On a "going" night the 29-year-old would have had a hat-trick. This was not a "going" night for individual or country.

Still, two went in and disaster was averted. The seventh-smallest country in the world even had a couple of chances of their own. But anything other than a home victory would have been a travesty. Sloppy in the first half, Wales were in full control of the second and would have scored more but for a stirring performance by the goalkeeper Peter Jehle. "Keepers always seem to end up as the man of the match when they have played us recently," said Toshack, thinking back to the last-gasp win against Azerbaijan which kick-started this World Cup campaign.

Indeed, there were many similarities between the two fixtures, although Wales's two boy-wonder full-backs, Gareth Bale and Chris Gunter, did not live up to their billing. Neither did Jason Koumas, who has rarely been so quiet. Yet maybe the biggest concern for Wales was their third missed penalty in as many games. "It didn't help that Bellamy told everyone in the morning papers he was going to stick it to the left," said Toshack. His laughter no doubt concealed a genuine worry. He will take comfort in the knowledge that Bellamy is not the type to let it happen again.

With three minutes gone yesterday the returning hero turned in the area and curled in a left-footer which was destined for the top corner. Jehle managed to get a fingertip to it and the crossbar did the rest.

Bellamy came close again in the 22nd minute but with the clock counting down to the break the frustration brewed as Wales struggled to connect with their passes. But then, in the 41st minute, up stepped David Edwards – he of the "pub team" slur – to convert Simon Davies's neat pull-back.

Wales were on their way, and when they were awarded the penalty two minutes later, for a crude trip from Martin Buchel on Bale, it appeared they were motoring. Yet Bellamy failed just as Koumas did against the Azeri and Bale did in Russia.

Seven minutes after the restart, Thomas Vejlgaard seemed certain to point to the spot again, when Edwards was upended by Fabio D'Elia. But the Danish referee did not, perhaps out of sympathy – to Wales, not Liechtenstein. As it was, the floodgates refused to open thanks to more Wales shoddiness in front of goal and the occasional special moment from Jehle.

The most special came in the 70th minute when he somehow turned away Bellamy's point-blank shot. There appeared no further way through. But with 10 minutes left the substitute Ched Evans put his head to a corner and a huge deflection off the captain, Mario Flick, gave the scoreline a more pleasing look. Despite this unconvincing display, Wales can take heart.

As Bellamy regains his match fitness and other senior players leap off their own treatment tables, they will surely improve and after the mountain in Mönchengladbach there will be time to regroup. With two wins from three and an undeserved defeat in Russia this has been anything but a ruinous beginning.

Substitutes: Wales: Evans for Vokes (51), Robinson for Fletcher (56), Collins for Bellamy (82). Liechtenstein: Christen for Ritzberger (67), Buchel for Polverino (80).

Attendance: 12,500

Referee: Thomas Vejlgaard (Denmark)

Man of the match: Jehle

Match rating: 5/10

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Tangerine Dream Edgar Froese
people
News
Rob Lowe
peopleRob Lowe hits out at Obama's snub of Benjamin Netanyahu
News
Davies (let) says: 'Everybody thought we were having an affair. It was never true!'
people'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
News
Staff assemble outside the old City Road offices in London
mediaThe stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century at Britain's youngest paper
Life and Style
The Oliver twins, Philip and Andrew, at work creating the 'Dizzy' arcade-adventure games in 1988
techDocumentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Arts and Entertainment
Krall says: 'My hero player-singer is Elton John I used to listen to him as a child, every single record
music
News
Friends for life … some professionals think loneliness is more worrying than obesity
scienceSocial contact is good for our sense of wellbeing - but it's a myth that loneliness kills, say researchers
Arts and Entertainment
The Wu-Tang Clan will sell only one copy of their album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin
musicWu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own only copies of their latest albums
News
i100
Environment
Number so freshwater mussels in Cumbria have plummeted from up to three million in the 20th century to 500,000
environment
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us