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Bellamy leads Wales to glory

Published: Thursday 17 October 2002, 0.50CET
Wales 2-1 Italy Craig Bellamy's second-half goal seals a sensational win for Mark Hughes's Wales.
Published: Thursday 17 October 2002, 0.50CET

Bellamy leads Wales to glory

Wales 2-1 Italy Craig Bellamy's second-half goal seals a sensational win for Mark Hughes's Wales.

A Craig Bellamy goal earned Wales a famous 2-1 win against Italy in their EURO 2004™ Group 9 qualifier at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium tonight.

Bellamy winner
With 19 minutes of the game remaining, Bellamy accepted a pass from Celtic FC striker John Hartson, rounded Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and stroked the ball into the back of the net to give Wales the lead for the second and final time of the evening.

Key pass
Bellamy - who had missed last month's 2-0 win in Finland - returned to the side in emphatic style and earlier laid on the opening goal for Mark Hughes's side after 12 minutes.
The Newcastle United FC striker raced past Luciano Zauri on the right before playing the ball to Tottenham Hotspur FC's Simon Davies who beat Buffon with an angled drive.

Deflected free-kick
Italy were soon back on level terms. Shortly after AS Roma's Christian Pannucci had missed a free header after Paul Jones's failure to punch clear, Alessandro Del Piero's free-kick took a telling deflection off Robbie Savage to level the scores after 31 minutes.

Italy revive
Gaining in confidence, it looked like Giovanni Trapattoni's side - missing Filippo Inzaghi, Christian Vieri and Francesco Totti among others - would go on to win the game in front of 72,000 supporters in Cardiff.

Montella goes close
Vincenzo Montella shot just wide a few minutes later and Wales had reason to believe their luck had run out three minutes before the break when Ryan Giggs's left-footed free-kick cannoned against the woodwork.

Superb save
However, they rallied in the second half as Hartson chipped just over the crossbar, before Jones made a superb save to deny Del Piero a second goal from a free-kick. The Southampton FC goalkeeper denied the Juventus FC striker again when he blocked a 70th-minute strike with his legs.

Mighty victory
That save proved crucial as Wales took the lead just 60 seconds later, and as the final whistle blew in Cardiff, Hughes's unfancied side were left to celebrate a second consecutive victory while Trapattoni pondered a qualifying campaign already in danger of turning out badly.

Hats off to Wales
"You have to take your hat off to Wales," said Trapattoni afterwards. "We could not cope with them." His opposite number was ovewhelmed with joy. "I am absolutely delighted with the players," said Hughes. "They really imposed themselves on this game. This has left me with a wonderful feeling. I always felt we could win – I knew we had the weapons to cause Italy problems."

Last updated: 30/03/04 16.50CET