Wales 1-2 Australia: Match Report
Wales boss Gary Speed's fledgling reign suffered another blow as they suffered a 2-1 friendly defeat to Australia at Cardiff City Stadium.
Speed was able to select a near full-strength squad including the likes of Gareth Bale and Craig Bellamy but his side produced a timid performance to offer concern ahead of next month's Euro 2012 qualifiers against Montenegro and England.
Goals from Tim Cahill and Robbie Kruse either side of half-time sewed up victory for Australia, who also twice hit the woodwork. Darcy Blake headed his first international goal to pull one back with eight minutes remaining but Speed was left to reflect on a fourth defeat in five games in charge.
The game had a low-key feel to it in the early going and the first incident of note was a clumsy tackle on Scott McDonald by David Vaughan after 15 minutes, for which the Sunderland midfielder was lucky not to be booked. The first shot on goal came in the 19th minute but Luke Wilkshire's free-kick hit the wall before Carl Valeri dragged the first genuine chance wide.
Wales eventually had an effort on goal as Bellamy cut inside from the right, but his shot was blocked by Matthew Spiranovic. There was finally something for the sparse crowd to get excited about as Wilkshire produced a thunderous dive from the right side of the area which cannoned to safety off the post with Wayne Hennessey beaten.
But Wales felt they should have been awarded a penalty just before the break when Bale went down under a challenge from Emerton, but Estonian official Kristo Tihver waved away the appeals.
And to the home side's chagrin the Socceroos went straight up the other end to grab the opener as Cahill volleyed home his 24th international goal from close range as he latched on to a Wilkshire cross.
Jack Collison lofted over after some good work down the right before a surging Bale run was halted by a cynical Michael Zullo challenge that earned the full-back a booking. McDonald was given space on the right of the area and his cross was palmed straight into the path of Kruse by Hennessey, giving the forward a simple tap in on 61 minutes.
Bellamy had an effort from a tight angle blocked by Spiranovic as Wales sought a response, after Bale, who was making more of an impact after a quiet first half, produced another threatening run.
Wales set up an exciting finish when substitute Blake headed home after a corner bobbled its way through to him in the 82nd minute, the Cardiff defender claiming a first international goal on his home ground. Spiranovic headed just over his own bar from a Bale cross as Wales piled on the pressure but the visitors held out for the win in the first meeting between the sides.
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