Georgia punish sloppy Welsh
Beka Gotsiridze snatched a stoppage-time winner to stun Wales and give war-torn Georgia a 2-1 victory in Swansea.
By Ben Collins
Last Updated: 21/08/08 9:20am
Substitute Beka Gotsiridze snatched a stoppage-time winner to stun Wales and give war-torn Georgia a 2-1 friendly victory at the Liberty Stadium.
Georgia lost their way after a strong start and Wales were deservedly in front at half-time after the visitors gifted them the opening goal in the 16th minute.
Goalkeeper George Loria spilled a 25-yard strike by Jason Koumas and knocked it past his own goal-line, giving the Wigan midfielder his 10th international goal and his ninth from his last 12 caps.
But Wales were made to pay for a poor second-half performance as the impressive Levan Kenia gave Gerogia a deserved equaliser in the 66th minute.
Gotsiridze then pounced on some hesitant Welsh defending to head home a minute into stoppage time and leave the Swansea crowd shell-shocked.
Georgia overcame considerable difficulties to be in south Wales due to the war with Russia, and a hastily patched-together squad was captained by Blackburn's Zurab Khizanishvili and included a host of home-based players.
For the hosts, the night included a parade of the seven surviving members of the Wales squad that played in the 1958 World Cup - Ken Jones, Cliff Jones, Terry Medwin, Mel Hopkins, Stuart Williams, Mel Charles and Colin Baker.
No Wales side in the 50 years since has reached the finals of a major tournament.
And following the crushing blow of the Under-21s' defeat in their crucial Uefa qualifier in Wrexham to Romania earlier in the evening, there was a realisation those heroes of the past may not be emulated any time soon.
The Georgians wore black armbands and linked hands, held aloft, when their anthem was played, Georgian flags waved from a small number of fans who had made their way to Swansea for what was understandably an emotional occasion.
Georgia may well have had problems getting their top men here, but those that did figure showed class, passing ability and excellent movement.
Khizanishvili and Levan Mchedlidze both saw headers go close in the opening minutes.
But Wales slowly worked their way into the game, with Simon Davies firing over from Paul Parry's fine cross, before they took the lead through Loria's blunder.
Loria was forced into a plunging save to stop a Parry drive, and the Cardiff striker went close again from a Davies pull-back.
Koumas was being allowed the time to run the show and he was finding space at will, with the Georgians failing to put him under much pressure.
Neil Eardley and Davies combined well down the right after 26 minutes to produce a delivery that evaded Loria and saw Koumas fire into the side netting.
Koumas, Parry and Davies were working well together, while Freddy Eastwood looked lively. One run past three men by the Coventry man ended with Loria forced into another fortunate block.
Georgia started the second period with a quicker tempo and generally more urgency.
Substitute Rati Aleksidze saw a header go just wide, with the impressive Kenia firing over soon after.
And it was no surprise when Georgia equalised, with Zurab Menteshashvili's neat ball cutting through the centre of the Wales defence and finding Kenia, who guided the ball past Boaz Myhill.
Wales hit back when Davies was played in by Koumas, and the Fulham midfielder got round Loria to produce a shot that Levan Khmaladze cleared from in front of an open goal.
Parry drifted from the game after a promising hour, and David Vaughan replaced him after 70 minutes.
Robert Earnshaw then came back into the international fray when he replaced Eastwood after 79 minutes, having been left out of the last four squads.But they were unable to turn the tide as Georgia punished Wales with an injury-time winner when Gotsiridze was allowed to run by Neal Eardley and beat Myhill to a hopeful long ball.
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