Wales bounce back as San Marino swept aside

WALES strolled to a convincing victory in Euro 2008 qualifying group D to re-establish confidence after the defeat in Dublin at the weekend.

Wales created countless chances but had to settle for first-half goals from Ryan Giggs and Gareth Bale before Jason Koumas’ penalty in the second period. Qualification has been a long shot since Dublin, but at least Wales have given their supporters — and boss John Toshack — faint hope.

Wales got the start they dreamed of, taking the lead after just two minutes 23 seconds.

Simon Davies’ pass found Koumas, and the midfielder’s instant pass reached Giggs unmarked on the edge of the box. He glided into yards of space to expertly sidefoot the ball past Aldo Simoncini.

In the 20th minute Wales scored again, with Bale taking advantage of slack defending to net from 25 yards.

Koumas curled a free-kick inches wide and Giggs set up Davies for an angled shot, before Collins rose to head a Giggs corner just over.

San Marino keeper Simoncini was in constant action, and threw himself at Bellamy’s feet to stop a point-blank effort, and then Giggs glided into space again, running onto a Davies chip.

But from 12 yards even the best are fallible and he managed to lift the ball over the bar with the goalkeeper already grounded.

Wales sent on Wigan’s David Cotterill for Easter at the break, and the one-way traffic continued.

Cotterill had a shot charged down before Bellamy’s flicked header from Ricketts’ cross went past the far post.

But the hosts eventually got their third goal on the hour when referee Ararat Tchagharyan decided that a bodycheck by Simone Bacciocchi on Cotterill was inside the box.

Koumas then saw his spot-kick half stopped by Simoncini, the ball rolling behind the keeper and over the line as the taker ushered it in.

Nyatanga somehow missed from a yard out after Collins had headed down a Koumas free-kick.

San Marino — defending with 10 in their last third — sent on Matteo Bugli and Federico Nanni for Mark Domeniconi and Cristian Negri.

It had long ceased to be a proper match — and in the closing stages Wales tried some party tricks and flicks as they sought to unpick the massed San Marino rearguard.

WALES: Coyne, Ricketts, Evans (Nyatanga 63), James Collins, Bale, Fletcher, Koumas, Simon Davies, Giggs (Parry 73), Bellamy, Easter (Cotterill 45).

SAN MARINO: Simoncini, Carlo Valentini (Toccaceli 85), Andreini, Albani, Muccioli, Bacciocchi, Negri (Nanni 79), Domeniconi (Bugli 67), Marani, Selva, Gasperoni.

Referee: A Tchagharyan (Armenia).

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