Wales 0-1 Costa Rica
Wales 0-1 Costa Rica
Cardiff City Stadium
Wednesday 29th February 2012
Wales stumbled at the feet of a classy and composed Costa Rica side this evening, in the memorial match in honour of the late great Gary Speed.
The game eventually started after the crowd extended the minute’s applause in tribute to the former Wales manager, although it would be fair to say that Wales never really started. Costa Rica eased into the lead within the opening ten minutes and never looked in serious danger of losing the game, with Joel Campbell slotting simply past Lewis Price after angled run into the box.
Whereas Costa Rica looked happy playing into and receiving the ball in tight spaces, occasionally sashaying past a few players and stretching and probing the Welsh defence, Wales in possession only looked backwards and long and badly missed the awesome athleticism of Gareth Bale and the vision and precision on Aaron Ramsey. The only player offering any forward movement was Hal Robson-Kanu, who was often isolated and ignored down the right, as captain Craig Bellamy dropped deep in search of the ball.
The few occasions Wales threatened Costa Rica’s jaunty keeper was from set pieces, with Steve Morison crashing a header off the bar from a 40th minute corner and substitute Robert Earnshaw bundling the ball into the net from a late Joe Ledley free kick, only to be left exasperated by a tight but correct offside decision.
Over 23,000 filled the Cardiff City Stadium to pay tribute to Gary Speed and I’m not sure any of them could fathom how Andrew Crofts was named man of the match, when there were seven to ten players in white shirts that were more deserving of the nod. Costa Rica didn’t reach top gear but neither did they need to as they produced a professional performance against an emotional Wales side.
New manager Chris Coleman has said it has been a difficult week in the team camp and that we shouldn’t see this as his first game, but there is a lesson to be learned here amongst the celebrations of Speed’s life and achievements. It’s always difficult for a nation of Wales’ size to cope with injuries to key players, but Coleman needs to develop a Plan B for such an eventuality if Wales are to get anywhere near Brazil 2014, which was Speed's goal for the team.
The enthusiasm and singing of the crowd, especially those in the Canton End ensured that tonight was a fitting tribute to a great man even if the players could not produce a positive result on the pitch.
Related Article: Gary Speed: A Welsh Great