Six make sense for Wales

Wales 6 (Saunders 2, 75, Hughes 25, 54, Melville 33 Robinson 45) San Marino 0 Attendance: 15,150
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The Independent Online
Ignore them when they say there are no easy matches in international football. Yesterday Wales duly recorded a scoreline more appropriate to Cardiff Arms Park's tradition as a rugby union venue and illustrated again the futility of San Marino's existence at this level.

Two goals each by Dean Saunders and Mark Hughes, punctuated by John Robinson's and Andy Melville's, were easily enough to bring Wales the points in World Cup qualifying Group Seven. Wales also squandered a penalty and hit the goal frame four times.

They will be relieved to have begun with two victories, having won 5- 0 in San Marino in June,but marring the start was a yellow card - for foolishly kicking the ball away - for the classy and effervescent Ryan Giggs, who was also booked in the away game. He now misses the match against Holland here on 5 October.

San Marino may be delightful to visit, perched atop a mountain,its main commercial activity of dealing in postage stamps adding to the air of romanticism, but its football team has no place in international competition.

Some people may be growing prosperous out of their participation but the standards of their game can hardly benefit. With a population of some 25,000 they are unlikely ever to be able to compete properly, even if they have been known to embarrass England in nine seconds. Like other newly-admitted nations they undermine the quality and integrity of competitions. If they are allowed in, it should be in a pre-qualifying tournament.

Wales took only 79 seconds to find the net yesterday. Giggs' perceptive left foot found Saunders in the inside-left channel and he swept the ball home with his first touch. At this, the part-time Sammarinese withdrew one of their two strikers into midfield. For a while the slicker and sharper Wales were frustrated, but patient passing gradually created the openings.

The second and third goals came from set-pieces resulting from desperate defence. Mark Pembridge's corner from the left was met by Hughes at the far post with a textbook downward header, and Giggs's from the right was stabbed home by Melville after the goalkeeper, Stefano Muccioli had, characteristically flapped.

Saunders, tripped by Muccioli, saw his penalty saved a minute later as the goalkeeper made amends, but the fourth came before the break, when Muccioli pushed out Hughes's header for Robinson to bundle home.

Hughes clipping home after Leone Gasperoni trod on Pembridge's long throw and Saunders heading home Hughes's cross represented scant reward for the second-half pressure.

San Marino had Pier Angelo Manzaroli sent off in the last seconds for a second yellow-card foul, but other disciplinary action was more significant. It would have been fascinating to see Giggs parade his skills in a proper international match.

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