Bobby Gould, the Wales manager, praised his side for their passion and heart after they ended their ill-starred European Championship campaign with this hard-earned draw in Tirana.
Wales recovered from conceding a fifth-minute penalty to draw level before half-time through Mark Pembridge's second international goal. "They did get at us at the start of the second half but we've got to take a great deal of heart from the way we played," Gould said. "Everybody gave their best. Although I wanted to win, because I'm a winner, it's a sound result."
Gould must have been delighted at the final whistle as his patched-up side held on to earn a draw. Gareth Taylor made his debut and Robbie Savage and John Robinson came off the bench near the end to earn their first caps.
Inside the first minute Neville Southall was beaten by a free-kick from Ledio Pano which crashed against his upright. Four minutes later Eric Young allowed Kushta to nip past him and race into the box, and his only response was a scything foul. The Israeli referee pointed straight to the penalty spot and Young must have been relieved to escape punishment for what appeared a professional foul. Kushta converted the penalty.
Wales battled back well, though, and equalised in the 41st minute. The goal owed much to the quick thinking of Dean Saunders, who took a throw down the left, but even more to the class of Ryan Giggs, who raced into space before picking out Pembridge's perfectly timed run. The headed finish was immaculate.
Two minutes into the second half Altin Rraklli struck the bar, but after that Wales recovered their poise. They had two goals disallowed, while Giggs missed two good chances.
ALBANIA: Strakosha; Zmijani, Shulku, Dema (Milori, 84), Vata, Lekbello, Kushta (Bushi, 58), Malko, Bozgo (Zalla, 79), Rraklli, Pano.
WALES: Southall (Everton); Jenkins (Huddersfield), Bowen (Norwich), Phillips (Nottingham Forest), Young (Wolves), Melville (Sunderland), Taylor (Crystal Palace), Pembridge (Sheffield Wednesday), Saunders (Galatasaray), Hughes (Luton), Giggs (Manchester Utd). Substitutes: Savage (Crewe) for Hughes, 63; Robinson (Charlton) for Taylor, 84.
Referee: D Suheil (Israel).Reuse content