Wales made it four games unbeaten since their defeat in the Euro 2004 play-offs thanks to Paul Parry's first-half header against Canada in Wrexham yesterday.
The Cardiff midfielder, who has made a dramatic rise from the Conference with Hereford this season, scored his first goal for his country in his third appearance. But although Wales, who had Ryan Giggs on for all but the final seconds to the delight of the Racecourse Ground crowd, dominated and wasted a lot of chances, tiredness and loss of concentration robbed them of a substantial victory.
Canada grew in confidence, with Tomasz Radzinski's runs causing problems, as the second half progressed, but Wales finished reasonably comfortable winners in the end. A season that started with hopes of Portugal ended with a somewhat low-key performance, but with international football back in north Wales for the first time in five years, the locals were just delighted to see their side.
The Canada coach, Frank Yallop, said he believes Wales will be a match for England when the sides meet in October's World Cup qualifier. "Considering the number of players Wales had missing for this one, they certainly have found strength in depth and plenty of players to step in for their missing stars," the former Ipswich player said. "If you put their strongest side on the pitch they would be a match for anyone these days, and that includes England."
Giggs returned after missing the midweek 0-0 draw in Norway, but Mark Hughes, the Wales coach, chose to leave the captaincy with Aston Villa's Mark Delaney. Giggs caused the Canadians considerable problems from the start, he and Craig Bellamy providing a mobile front partnership.
Canada were forced back, leaving Radzinski to try his pace against Danny Gabbidon. Every touch from Giggs was met with roars from the home crowd and it was his 10th-minute corner, swirling in from the right, that almost helped break the deadlock with Carl Fletcher arriving to meet it at the far post for a header which smacked against a post.
It was Fletcher's astute chip down the right that paved the way for Parry's goal on 21 minutes. Bellamy got to the byline to collect the pass and chipped beyond the far post for Parry to head back across the stranded Pat Onstad in the Canada goal.
"In Norway on Thursday we played so well and did not get the result we deserved," Hughes said. "This time we completed a comfortable performance and got the win. That is four games now without defeat and it is a nice way to go off into the summer for everyone.
"It is also three clean sheets on the trot and we pride ourselves on being difficult to beat.," he added. "You build everything from being strong at the back, and it gives us the foundation to win matches."
Giggs said: "It is important that we put on a good display for the fans in north Wales, there is a great tradition of international football in Wrexham even if we have not played here for a while. It was good to see the ground almost full, and I am sure they were pleased with what we produced."
Goal: Parry (21) 1-0.
WALES (4-4-2): Coyne (Margetson, h-t); Delaney, Collins, Gabbidon, Thatcher; Robinson (Edwards, 79), Fletcher, Oster, Parry (Earnshaw 68); Giggs (Llewellyn, 89), Bellamy. Substitutes not used: Williams, Barnard, G Roberts, Vaughan, N Roberts.
CANADA (4-4-2): Onstad; Imhof, Jazic, Watson, De Vos; De Guzman, Hume (Occean, 79), Hutchinson (Bircham, h-t), Brennan (Peschisolido h-t); De Rosario (Klukowski, 84), Radzinski (McKenna, 72). Substitutes not used: Hirschfeld (gk).
Referee: P McKeon (Ireland).
Attendance: 10,805.Reuse content