Wales 3 Cyprus 1: Bellamy finds the energy to inspire Welsh recovery

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The Independent Football

On a night which confounded the impression created in two matches only five days earlier, Wales recovered from a 5-1 mauling by Slovakia to record a deserved first victory in Group D over a Cyprus side who arrived in Cardiff fresh from a 5-2 romp against the Republic of Ireland.

John Toshack later complained he had never known such "sensationalism" as the reaction at the weekend. The Wales manager was entitled to a sense of vindication. Resisting wholesale changes, he brought in just two young players, Lewis Price and Craig Morgan and was rewarded by a positive display in which Craig Bellamy and Robert Earnshaw scored overdue goals in competitive fixtures.

Jason Koumas, who could have chosen to play for Cyprus, his father was born there, set the ball rolling in the first half with his second goal for Wales. Earnshaw doubled the advantage and Bellamy made it 3-0 with 18 minutes left.

Ioannis Okkas pulled one back for Cyprus, yet his superbly chipped shot failed to take the gloss of Wales' transformation. "We could have scored four or five," Toshack said. "It gives me great satisfaction to see players who were in our Under-21s six months ago play that well."

Bellamy and Earnshaw frequently pulled the Cypriot defence out of shape and, in the 16th minute, Bellamy fed Koumas for an angled shot which clipped the far post. The interplay between Simon Davies and Koumas was central to Wales' dominance and the duo combined for the first goal in the 33rd minute. Koumas found his fellow midfielder on the right and continued his run before heading the ensuing cross past Michael Morphis. The second came after Bellamy picked out Earnshaw with a low cross which was deftly turned in.

Wales were almost caught cold at the start of the second half. Lewis Price saved with a foot from Konstantinos Makrides and Efstathios Aloneftis shot wide from the rebound. Wales were scarcely flattered when Bellamy skilfully found the gap between Morphis and his near post after yet another pass by Davies. Okkas' riposte proved scant consolation for Cyprus.

Wales (3-5-2): Price (Ipswich); Morgan (Milton Keynes Dons), Gabbidon (West Ham), Nyatanga (Derby); Duffy (Portsmouth), S Davies (Everton), Robinson (Norwich), Koumas (West Bromwich), Bale (Southampton); Bellamy (Liverpool), Earnshaw (Norwich). Substitues used: Ledley (Cardiff) for Koumas (76), Edwards (Wolves) for Duffy (79). Parry (Cardiff) for Bellamy (90)

Cyprus (4-5-1): Morphis (Apoel); Theodotou (Omonia), Louka, Lambrou (both Anorthosis), Garpozis (Xanthi); Okkas (Olympiacos), Makrides, Satsias, Michail (all Apoel), Aloneftis (Larissa); Constantinou (Olympiacos). Substitues used: Charamlambos (PAOK Salonika) for Garpozis (h-t), Charalampidis (PAOK) for Michail (h-t), Yiasoumi (PAOK) for Satsias (83)

Referee: J Granat (Poland).

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