Bellamy misses painful lesson for Wales

Last updated at 10:44 09 September 2007

Wales' young players were given a painful lesson by one of the world's top footballing powers as they were clinically out-played in this Euro 2008 qualifier.

With four players 20 or younger, and with striker Craig Bellamy ruled out for family reasons, this was always going to be a step up in class.

Wales worked hard, but never got close to troubling a German side now on the brink of qualification for next summer's finals, unbeaten at the head of Group D.

The quality of their captain and key striker Miroslav Klose shone throughout this match, and he scored goals in each half to take his tally for his country to 35 in 70 internationals.

Wales never tested Arsenal keeper Jens Lehmann at any stage, such was the imbalance of the contest.

The overnight fear that skipper Bellamy would not be involved in this qualifier came to fruition during the day, the West Ham striker having spent two days and nights with his wife at the bedside of their sick baby daughter.

Cardiff's Joe Ledley came into the side at the Millennium Stadium to play at left wing-back, with Gareth Bale pushing into midfield with Wales fielding just one striker in Freddy Eastwood.

Germany included Bayern Munich's Marcel Jansen after his recovery from a high temperature, while Kevin Kuranyi and Robert Hilbert were late additions to a side missing nine players due to injury for this Euro 2008 qualifier in Cardiff.

But the loss of Bellamy, and the target and pace he provides to hard-pressed defenders, certainly deflated the Welsh.

Bellamy's absence just heightened the foreboding that surrounded this Group D clash, Wales starting with only three players currently in Premier League first teams, against the side who finished third in last summer's World Cup finals.

Germany took control from the start and were ahead on five minutes. Jason Koumas was caught in possession in midfield and Kuranyi strode through the centre before feeding Klose, who neatly steered the ball wide of Wayne Hennessey.

Germany controlled the game with ease, Wales having only Eastwood on his own up front and midfielders forced deep as they scurried to contain flowing passing movements.

Wales had one fleeting early chance, Sam Ricketts getting down the right to cross for Koumas to lift his shot wide.

But Wales continued to look tentative and nervous, seemingly lacking in self-confidence in such company.

It took a fine saving tackle from Lewin Nyatanga to stop Kuranyi eight yards out, but Germany continued to stroll their way through the proceedings.

Wales were too busy defending to create anything significant, and Eastwood against Real Madrid defender Christoph Metzelder was hardly a fair contest.

Frustration crept in and Danny Gabbidon was booked for a foul on Klose before James Collins went down in agony as he challenged Kuranyi.

He needed extensive treatment before limping off. And when fussy Spanish referee Manuel Gonzalez refused to let him back on, the West Ham defender found himself cautioned for dissent for complaining too much when he did finally return.

Manager John Toshack needed to do something to inject some purpose into Wales, and he sent on Robert Earnshaw to partner Eastwood at the break, withdrawing Ledley and pushing Bale to full-back. Germany replaced Christian Pander with Piotr Trochowski.

At least the extra striker gave the German defence something to think about and the pace of the game improved.

But it was only a temporary break in Germany's flow, and the excellent Bastian Schweinsteiger saw a rising drive just clear the bar.

Germany put an end to Wales' fleeting hopes with a second on the hour.

Hilbert got down the right before clipping a cross in for Klose to head past Hennessey from close range.

Hennessey had to be alert to pull down another Klose effort as Germany continued to play with menace.

Koumas was taken off on 67 minutes, Carl Fletcher taking over. But still Germany motored forward and Klose saw a clever header bounce wide of the far post soon after.

Earnshaw, who worked hard when he came on, broke away to fire a 20-yard shot just over the angle, before Lukas Podolski came on for Kuranyi.

Andrew Crofts came on for the hard-working Davies, but Wales won only their second corner in the 88th minute, and that said it all about this one-sided contest.

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