Wales made to pay for missed penalty
1 1 There were less than three minutes on the clock when the Wales supporters started their campaign to keep Chris Coleman on as manager and it quickly became clear that it was going to be the soundtrack of the evening.
“Chrissy Coleman, we want you to stay” was the message that reverberated from the fans time and again on the manager’s 49th – and potentially last – match in charge of his country.
Talks will continue between Coleman and the Football Association of Wales over the coming days, with the 47-yearold’s contract expiring at the end of the month. The feeling is that the two parties are not that far apart, with key details still to be resolved surrounding Coleman’s backroom staff and the infrastructure that he wants in place to build on his work over the best part of six years. Either way, his legacy is assured with Wales.
In many ways this was a night that provided a glimpse into the future, with Ethan Ampadu, Ben Woodburn and David Brooks all showing moments of promise on their full international debuts and the 23-year-old Tom Lawrence delivering a fine solo goal 15 minutes from time.
There was also a little bit of history for Chris Gunter, who made his 85th appearance for Wales to draw level with the late Gary Speed as the country’s mostcapped outfield player. Panama, however, had not read the script and the evening finished with Armando Cooper scoring an injury-time equaliser to deny Coleman and his players victory.
While the failure to secure a place at
Russia continues to hang over Wales, there are no such concerns for Panama. They have qualified for the World Cup finals for the first time, courtesy of a dramatic
victory over Costa Rica last month that brought a nation of four million people to a standstill. Juan Carlos Varela, the Panama president, duly declared the following day a public holiday.
The objectives are much longer-term for Wales and Coleman picked a team with that in mind, giving Ampadu, who is 17 years old, Woodburn, who turned 18 last month, and the 20-year-old Brooks their first Wales starts. All three caught the eye when they came on in the 2-0 defeat against France in Paris on Friday and they were quick to make an impression here, too. Six minutes had gone when Ampadu pinched possession, Brooks crossed from the right and Woodburn, arriving at the far post, had his header saved by Jaime Penedo, the Panama goalkeeper.
When Sam Vokes broke through the middle and thumped a 25-year shot wide it seemed only a matter of time before they
Tom Lawrence gave Wales the lead with 15 minutes remaining against Panama