Wales 3 Norway 0: Koumas strikes twice to fuel Welsh optimism

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The Independent Football

John Toshack's young side gave Wales massive cause for optimism at the Racecourse Ground in Wrexham last night as a convincing friendly victory over Norway extended their unbeaten run to four.

Two goals from Jason Koumas, the night's outstanding performer, and one from Carl Fletcher consigned the highly rated Scandinavians to just their second defeat in 10 internationals. And despite starting with just two Premier League players to the visitors' six, Wales were fully deserving of their win.

Fletcher put Wales on their way in the 15th minute when latching on to Freddie Eastwood's through-ball before finding the inside of the far post. The midfielder's first goal for his country was one of few chances in a first half during which the sodden pitch deteriorated into a quagmire.

Wales were denied their second after the break when first David Edwards hit the post with a rousing strike from 25 yards and then Koumas' free-kick ricocheted off the woodwork. But the Wigan playmaker made no mistake in the 62nd minute when finishing off a fine move and again in the 89th minute when teed up by Edwards on the edge of the area. Norway's opportunities were kept to a minimum.

The display will instil so much confidence ahead of the World Cup qualifying campaign, especially considering the number of first-choice players out through injury. Wales' average age was just 23.

Wales (4-4-1-1): Hennessey (Price, h-t); Ricketts (Eardley, 58), Morgan, Nyatanga, Gunter; S Davies (Cotterill, 58), Robinson (Crofts, 65), Fletcher, Ledley (Edwards, h-t); Koumas; Eastwood (C Davies, 58). Substitutes not used: A Davies, Earnshaw, Evans, Easter.

Norway (4-3-3): Opdal (Jarstein, h-t); Storbaek, Hangeland (Kippe, 61), Kah, Riise; Andresen, Stromstad (Grindheim, h-t), Nevland (Bjorkoy, 76); Braaten, Pedersen, Carew (Haestad, h-t). Substitutes not used: Hoiland, Brenne.

Referee: D Mckeon (Ireland).