Koumas shines as Wales exude confidence

first_imgnews Soccer Wales 3-0 NorwayFletcher 15, Koumas 62, 89 This article is more than 11 years old Share on Facebook Reuse this content Stuart James at the Racecourse Ground Share on WhatsApp Share on Pinterest Share on Twitter Topics This article is more than 11 years old Shares00 Share on Messenger Wales Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Friendlies Koumas shines as Wales exude confidence Share on LinkedIn Share via Email First published on Thu 7 Feb 2008 17.33 EST After spending the previous two days talking up their chances of qualifying for the World Cup finals in South Africa in 2010, Wales last night showed signs that they are capable of delivering on their promise. Norway might have appeared uninterested for long periods on a pitch where there was more mud than grass yet there was much to admire about a Wales victory that saw John Toshack’s youthful side play with refreshing energy and confidence.Watched by Ryan Giggs, who provided the players with encouraging words before the match, Wales defeated Norway for the first time since 1982 when Ian Rush scored the only goal. This win was far more resounding, with the third goal that saw David Edwards unselfishly set up the effervescent Jason Koumas in the 89th minute providing the coup de grace.Those hoping to be entertained with free-flowing football had picked the wrong venue. With the pitch resembling a school playing field rather than an international surface, it was an achievement for anyone to keep their footing, never mind the ball. Wales seemed to adapt far better to the conditions than their hosts, however, with Carl Fletcher’s first goal for his country providing an encouraging start against a powerful and direct Norwegian side.Fletcher is most comfortable when deployed as a holding midfielder harassing opponents but here there was evidence of an ability to break from deep. Freddy Eastwood piloted the ball into Fletcher’s path and the Crystal Palace player burst into the penalty area before shooting beyond Hakon Opdal.Norway might have been ahead at that point, with Fulham’s Erik Nevland and Pa-Modou Kah both heading over inside the first six minutes. John Toshack, forced to name an inexperienced line-up through injuries, might have feared the worst at that point but his callow side grew in confidence, with Jason Koumas at the centre of the home team’s more enterprising moments.Morten Gamst Pedersen offered a reminder of the visitors’ threat in the 43rd minute when his 18-yard shot flashed inches wide but it was rare moment of quality. Indeed for much of the first half the Norwegian players were more concerned with trying to avoid the divots that made elementary skills like dribbling and crossing appear impossible. Mastering the art of finishing appeared beyond Age Hareide’s team, with Christian Grindheim wastefully nodding wide.Wales were not so forgiving. Koumas, who had hit the woodwork moments earlier with a sublime free-kick, sashayed across the area before planting a crisp shot into the bottom corner. It was no more than Wales deserved, with Dave Edwards also striking an upright and another substitute, Craig Davies, seeing his curling effort tipped over the bar. The reprieve was only temporary as Koumas converted the third. @StuartJamesGNM Share via Email Soccer Thu 7 Feb 2008 17.33 ESTlast_img

Leave your comment