Montenegro's UEFA European Championship qualifying debut went to plan as Mirko Vučinić's tenth goal in 20 international appearances secured UEFA's newest member nation a 1-0 Group G victory against Wales.
The 26-year-old AS Roma forward surged through a limp challenge down the left flank on the half-hour before spearing a low shot home off the inside of Wayne Hennessey's right-hand post. He might have had a second before the break, with another shot skidding off target via a Welsh defender. However, in the absence of playmaker Stevan Jovetić, ruled out for six to eight months with a serious knee injury, Zlatko Kranjčar's men rode their luck as the clock ticked down and were grateful to hear the final whistle.
The home side were quick and incisive from the off; Radomir Djalović and Branko Bošković both shot at Hennessey before the omnipresent Vučinić glanced just beyond the Wales goalkeeper's right-hand post. Wales captain Craig Bellamy passed up the chance of a barely-deserved equaliser a few minutes after Vučinić's opener, hooking wide with the Montenegro defence momentarily rocking, but it might have been 2-0 just after the break as Simon Vukčević's free-kick dipped just over the goal frame.
The home side's nerves jangled thereafter. A Gareth Bale set piece crept just around the post and Mladen Božović was required to paw a bouncing Ashley Williams effort over his bar. Bellamy began to find space in the closing stages, but headed straight at the Montenegro No1 when unmarked from a corner. Simon Church then nodded an effort on to the crossbar with Montenegro's poise deserting them, and the relief in the home crowd was evident when the substitute had a goal chalked off for offside late on.
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