Below-strength Wales hold heads high in yielding to Croatian pressure

Croatia 2 Wales 0

Goals from Ivan Rakitic and Drago Gabric condemned a patched-up Wales side to a valiant defeat in last night's international friendly in Croatia.

Rakitic undid a fine Wales first-half showing with a stunning strike just before the interval and substitute Gabric wrapped up victory late on.

Yet Wales, denied the services of 15 senior players, could look back on their performance in Osijek with pride and the Reading striker Simon Church was unlucky to have a goal disallowed. Yet given such a fraught build-up to the game, with manager John Toshack having to cope with eight withdrawals from his initial squad, Wales acquitted themselves well.

"It is just disappointing and unfortunate we had the amount of players missing we have," Toshack said. "We arranged this game with the Montenegro match in mind in September because it will be a similar type of atmosphere. But we had a few chances and there was a goal - I don't think anyone would have complained too much if it had stood."

Midway through the first half Wales thought they had claimed a surprise lead as Chris Gunter's ball from the left was turned in by Church, whose celebrations for what would have been his second international goal were cut short, however, by an offside flag.

Pressure eventually told as Croatia took the lead with a superb, curling strike by Rakitic from 30 yards after he had combined with Nikica Jelavic.

The hosts continued to threaten but the Wales back line of captain Ashley Williams, Lewin Nyatanga and Craig Morgan proved strong.

Croatia remained the dominant side but they did not make victory safe until the 81st minute. The Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Luka Modric cut open the Wales defence with a superb ball and Gabric raced clean through to fire low past Boaz Myhill.

Croatia Pletikosa, Strinic, Simunic, Lovren, Srna (Vida, 75), Rakitic (Pokrivac, 76), Vukojevic (Dujmovic, 65), Mandzukic (Badelj, 90), Jelavic (Bilic, 46), Petric (Gabric, h-t), Modric. Substitutes not used Subasic, Schildenfeld, Cale, Vucko.

Wales Hennessey (Myhill, h-t), Ricketts, Williams, Nyatanga, Gunter (Ribeiro, 81), Edwards, Morgan, Stock (Bradley, 57), Dorman (Taylor, 62), Church (Vokes, 71), Earnshaw (Robson-Kanu, 72).

Referee S Vincic (Slovenia)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there