Giggs' sending-off caps miserable night for Wales

Norway 3 Wales 2
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The Independent Online

Ryan Giggs was sent off for the first time in his career on the night that Wales equalled the worst-ever run in their history. He went in the dying minutes for a second bookable offence, a distressing end to his third game as captain of his country.

Wales have now failed to win for 12 matches, a run matched only by sequences between May 1968 and April 1970, and between March 1896 and February 1900.

The night had started so well. Fine goals from Robbie Savage and Craig Bellamy had them buzzing. But although the Welsh defended stoutly, with Mark Delaney and Kit Symons outstanding, they wilted under a constant barrage to collapse in those final minutes that saw an infuriated Giggs dismissed for a late tackle on Roar Strand.

Norway, whose manager Nils Semb is under huge pressure because of their failure to qualify from this Group Five despite being top seeds, brought in the Liverpool teenager John Arne Riise for Andre Bergdolmo from the side that lost in Poland on Saturday.

Norway, though, had problems from the kick-off when Steffen Iversen fell heavily after challenging Delaney in the air and injured his right ankle. He was replaced by the Valencia striker John Carew.

After nine minutes Wales took the lead when Giggs, Simon Davies and Steve Jenkins combined with an excellent one-touch move, ending with a cross that Ronnie Johnsen headed out only as far as Savage just outside the box and the Leicester man volleyed a dipping 25-yarder past Thomas Myhre into the top corner.

Norway equalised through Johnsen shortly after but Wales grabbed the initiative in the 27th minute when Robert Page's free-kick from the half-way line reached John Hartson on the edge of the box and the Celtic man chested the ball down for Giggs whose 18-yard drive was only half-stopped by Myhre and the ball bounced out for Bellamy to drive home.

Wales conceded far too much possession in midfield and Norway evened matters on 65 minutes when the ball was not cleared from the box. Oyvind Leonhardsen hooked the ball back across goal and Carew was all on his own a yard out to tap home.

It was backs-to-the-wall stuff now for Wales as they just couldn't get the ball out of their half. Norway inevitably took the lead on 83 minutes when Frode Johnsen headed home Riise's left-wing corner.

NORWAY: Myhre (Everton), Basma (Rosenborg), Berg (Blackburn), R Johnsen (Man Utd), Arne Riise (Liverpool), Sorensen (Borussia Dortmund), Strand (Rosenborg), Rudi (Lokeren), Leonhardsen (Tottenham), Solskjaer (Man Utd), Iversen (Tottenham). Substitutes: Carew (Valencia) for Iverson 5, F Johnsen (Rosenborg) for Sorenson 46, Strand (Lillestrom) for Leonhardsen 89.

WALES: Jones (Southampton), Delaney (Aston Villa), Jenkins (Huddersfield), Page (Watford), Symons (Fulham), Robinson (Wolves), Savage (Leicester), Bellamy (Newcastle), Hartson (Celtic), Davies (Tottenham), Giggs (Man Utd). Substitutes: Robinson (Charlton) for Davies 76, Blake (Blackburn) for C Robinson 83, M Jones (Leicester) for Hartson 83.

Referee: Frits Stuchlik (Austria)

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