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Wales held to disappointing goalless draw in Gibraltar

Wales manager Rob Page saw his side held by Gibraltar, 203 in the world (PA)
Wales manager Rob Page saw his side held by Gibraltar, 203 in the world (PA)

Wales suffered one of the most embarrassing results in their history against Gibraltar as opponents ranked 203 in the world held them to a 0-0 draw.

Only seven teams in the 210-strong international football family are worse than Gibraltar, according to FIFA, yet Wales failed to beat a side who had lost their past 13 games by an aggregate score of 50-0.

Although this was a low-key friendly played at Gibraltar’s temporary home in Portugal, this result will do few favours for Dragons manager Rob Page.

The Football Association of Wales were quick to back Page after the Dragons failed to qualify for Euro 2024 this summer.

But those grumbling voices among Wales’ fan base will get louder as Gibraltar avoided defeat for the first time since beating Andorra in November 2022

Page named a youthful side boasting only 44 caps and Wales ended a frustrating afternoon at the Estadio Algarve with Brennan Johnson, Daniel James and Kieffer Moore on the pitch desperately seeking a goal.

Lewis Koumas made his debut in Gibraltar
Lewis Koumas made his debut in Gibraltar (PA)

Liverpool’s Lewis Koumas was also sent on from the bench for the final 17 minutes and the teenager almost marked his debut with a winner six minutes after his arrival, but Gibraltar goalkeeper Jaylan Hankins reacted well to push his effort wide.

The two sides had met as recently as last October – their only previous contest – when Wales coasted to a 4-0 win in Wrexham.

Bolton midfielder Josh Sheehan took over the armband, winning only his sixth cap and first as a starter, and full-backs Fin Stevens and Jay Dasilva made debuts.

Koumas and 17-year-old Leeds midfielder Charlie Crew would also win first caps on a day when none of Wales’ starting line-up had played in the Premier League in the season just finished.

The pace of Rabbi Matondo, Wales’ most experienced player with 10 caps, was an early threat with the Rangers winger keen to run at opponents.

Rabbi Matondo was a constant threat
Rabbi Matondo was a constant threat (PA)

Ben Cabango headed over Sheehan corner and Wales continued to probe without much purpose and penetration.

Gibraltar were content to sit in a low block with proceedings taking place almost entirely in their own half.

Wes Burns had impressed with his technique on the right flank, but he was just unable to toe Charlie Savage’s pass around onrushing goalkeeper Hankins.

Sheehan was cautioned for a high challenge on Tjar De Barr by Northern Irish referee Jamie Robinson that might have brought greater sanction in a competitive affair.

Wales upped the tempo as the half-hour arrived with Hankins producing a strong hand to push out Liam Cullen’s well-struck low shot and Cabango heading over.

Matondo had an effort blocked but Gibraltar reached the break with their goal intact and no doubt delighted by their first half work.

Sheehan’s set-pieces had caused Gibraltar as much bother as Wales’ build-up play in the first half.

Joe Low somehow managed to divert wide when standing a yard from goal, and Sheehan’s next corner sailed over Hankins’ head and hit the inside of a post.

Page made a triple change on the hour with James, Johnson and Moore all arriving to pep up the attack.

The threat began to grow with Savage’s shot charged down and Bernardo Lopes positioning himself on the goal-line to head away Cabango’s header.

Koumas almost added to the debut goals he had managed for Liverpool and Wales Under-21s in recent months, but there was no fairytale finish this time and jeers from travelling fans greeted the final whistle.