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By Josh Thomas
Ryan Giggs felt a humbling defeat to Spain was “disappointing” after seeing his Wales side comfortably beaten 4-1 in Cardiff.
Wales returned to the Principality Stadium for the first time since being defeated by England in a Euro 2012 qualifier, but failed to gain inspiration from the homecoming.
“The build up was magnificent, you know coming into the stadium onto the coach, you could just feel the buzz and it’s something different,” said the Wales manager.
“It was one that we were all looking forward too. Unfortunately, we couldn’t perform on the pitch which is obviously disappointing but we are just happy that we gave the crowd something to cheer about at the end with a fantastic goal.”
With a Nations League game against the Republic of Ireland coming up on Tuesday, Giggs made six substitutions during the second half to freshen things up.
“If there is any positives to take out of tonight, then Mattie Smith came on and did well, David Brooks showed what he is capable off, and with Tom Lawrence we had a threat with those three players coming on,” added Giggs.
“We just brush ourselves down and take it on the chin. The last time we were in Cardiff we won 4-1 and we were magnificent.”
“Tonight we were disappointing, so the good thing about football is you’ve always got the next game and that can’t come quickly enough.
“The goals were really disappointing. We know when we come up against such a good team who are technically so good, you have to work hard when they have the ball.”
Spain, who scored three goals in 29 minutes through Paco Alacar and one from Captain Sergio Ramos, made Giggs feel that his team gave away sloppy goals.
“We gave two set piece goals away. They were poor set piece goals, especially the first one.
“You are up against it after seven minutes. The first goal was a poor one and then you are chasing shadows but we kept in the game, the players kept going and that’s a credit to the players.
“I challenged them to try and win the second half, get something out of the game. We didn’t win it but we drew the second half.”
“I’m glad to say this game doesn’t come around very often. We got a lesson in many aspects but the main thing is we got taught tonight to do the basics right.”
On being asked if Wales should play more games at the Principality Stadium after Thursday night’s game drew in a crowd of just over 50,000, Giggs was careful to leave the door open.
“Like I said before the game, we just take each game on merit. Obviously, Cardiff City has been our home, we’ve got a very good record there, but before the game it was a special occasion to come back here.
“I think it invigorated everyone and just it was something different. But in the foreseeable future with Denmark at Cardiff City, we take every game on its merits and see if we can fill the stadium.
Spain scored one more in the second half through Marc Barta, before Sam Vokes added a consolation.
“That’s credit to the players. The performance they put on the last time in Cardiff, we just couldn’t replicate that tonight against a very good team. You have to give them credit.”
“They have fantastic players. You look at all the clubs they are playing at, they are all playing at the top level and they showed that tonight and it was a lesson for us.
“It was a lesson for a lot of the players, one that we will learn from and we’ll come back stronger and we will be better Tuesday.”
Wales made five changes from their UEFA Nations League defeat in Denmark. In came Ashley Williams who captained the side, Connor Roberts, Declan John, Harry Wilson and Sam Vokes for James Chester, Chris Mepham, Connor Roberts, Tom Lawrence and Gareth Bale.
While Spain made six changes from their 6-0 win over Croatia with Dani Carvajal, Nacho, Busquets, Asensio, Rodrgio all being replaced by Raul Albiol, Cesar Azpilicueta, Rodri, Suso, Alvaro Morata and Paco Alcacer.
It was Morata who had the first chance of the game but his pass across the goal was comfortably gathered by Wales’s Wayne Hennessay.
Spain’s early signs of pressure paid off when Alcacer, who was recalled into the Spanish squad by manager Luis Enrique for the first time in two years, scored from the edge of the area.
Azipillicueta sent in the cross which Hennessey could only punch out to Gaya. He passed to Saul before the ball arrived at the feet of Alcacer, who made it 1-0 to Spain on eight minutes.
Eleven minutes later and Spain made it 2-0. Morata was brought down by Chris Gunter around 25 yards from goal and Suso’s free kick found on the head of Sergio Ramos.
This seemed to wake Wales up and, after good work from Connor Roberts, his pass found Harry Wilson on the right before he was bought down by Ramos and earned Wales a free kick.
Wilson, who had scored a terrific free kick in the Carabao Cup against Manchester United for Derby County, almost caught United’s David De Gea out but his shot went narrowly over the bar.
It was Alcacer who next scored his second of the game. Chelsea front man Morata went down in the box and amongst the confusion the on loan Borussia Dortmund man volleyed home past helpless Hennessay.
In front of the 50,232 crowd Wales‘ Wilson won his side their first corner of the game, which resulted in Chelsea’s Ethan Ampadu heading against the post, but Spain went into half time with a comfortable lead.
Gareth Bale, who missed the game through injury, was presented at the break with the Golden Boot by Tottenham Hotspur legends Terry Medwin and Cliff Jones after breaking Ian Rush’s record of 28 goals. Jones also presented Medwin with a special cap for his services to Wales
The Spanish almost made it 4-0 early in the second half after a good exchange between Azpilicueta and Suso down the right found the latter whose curling shot hit the top of the crossbar.
With both sides making a number of changes ahead of their Nations League game, Spain did make it 4-0 with substitute Marc Bartra. Hie climbed highest from yet another corner to powerfully head the ball home.
But Wales weren’t to be denied on their first game at the National Stadium of Wales since playing England in 2011.
Good work from Matthew Smith meant he found the overlapping David Brooks, whose cross was headed home by Burnley’s Sam Vokes.
It gave Wales the last word on a night that belonged to Spain.
Wales: Hennessey, Chris Gunter, Ashley Williams, (James Chester, 46) Connor Roberts, Ben Davies, (Jazz Richards, 62) Declan John, (Tom Lawrence, 62) Joe Allen, (Matthew Smith, 61) Ethan Ampadu, (Andy King, 50) Aaron Ramsey, Harry Wilson (David Brooks, 46) and Sam Vokes
Adam Davies, Danny Ward, Jazz Richards, James Chester, Andy King, Tom Lawrence, Tyler Roberts, George Thomas, David Brooks, Joe Rodon, Ben Woodburn and Matthew Smith.
Goals: 89 Minutes Sam Vokes
Spain: De Gea (Kepa Arrizabalaga, 46) Raul Albiol, Saul, (Koke, 46) Alvaro Morata, Paco Alcacer (Iago Aspas, 73), Suso, (Rodrigo, 82) Cesar Azpilicueta, (Jonny, 63) Sergio Ramos (Captain), (Marc Bartra, 46) Rodri, Jose Gaya, Dani Caballos
Pau Lopez, Kepa Arrizabalaga, Jonny, Nacho, Sergio Busquets, Koke, Thiago Alcantara, Marcos Alonso, Iago Aspas, Rodrgio, Marco Asensio, Marc Bartra
Goals: 8 minutes and 29 Minutes Paco Alcacer, 19 Minutes Sergio Ramos, 74 Minutes Marc Bartra
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