Wales’ hopes of a first trophy since 1937 were ended by Edinson Cavani as the Paris Saint-Germain striker gave Uruguay victory in the China Cup final. Cavani marked his 100th appearance for La Celeste by slotting home the only goal of the game after his strike partner Luis Suarez had hit the woodwork twice in Ryan Giggs’ first defeat as Wales boss.
Giggs’ side thrashed the hosts here in Nanning to reach the final, but Uruguay were always going to provide a much tougher test and so it proved.
Wales, it must be said, weren’t at their best. Gareth Bale and co. played well against China and Giggs can be pleased on the whole with his first two games in charge, even if Uruguay deserved to win this one.
It took less than two minutes for Suarez’s threat to become obvious. After Joe Allen gave away possession, Nahitan Nandez’s cross from the right found the Barcelona man in acres of space. Inside the box, a goal looked a formality, but Suarez could only strike the foot of the post.
Wales responded with a long-range Bale effort before Sam Vokes worked Fernando Muslera following an excellent Harry Wilson cross.
Uruguay lost defender Jose Maria Gimenez who limped off injured to be replaced by former Liverpool man Sebastian Coates, but there were chances at both ends. Vokes headed over and Andy King tested Muslera, while at the other end Cavani just failed to get a touch on a Suarez cross and Matias Vecino fired wide.
Giggs switched to a 4-3-3 formation for this game and star man Bale roamed the pitch, dropping deep to try and influence proceedings. The Real Madrid star’s impact was limited however due to Wales carelessly giving away possession.
Bale, Chris Gunter and Ashley Williams were all guilty, the latter nearly costing his team a goal. Williams’ back pass to Neil Hennessey only found Suarez, who rounded the Wales goalkeeper, but surprisingly struck the woodwork for the second occasion.
Hennessey then acrobatically tipped over Cavani’s rocket while King and Bale had further efforts on goal, but the teams went to the break level.
Wales had been let off the hook by Suarez in the first period, but Uruguay finally made them pay when the second half resumed. A long ball escaped the red defence and Cristian Rodriguez found Cavani inside the six-yard box to give him the simplest of finishes.
Cavani nearly had his second almost straight away and Uruguay, after gradually taking control before the break, got their passing game going as Suarez had a goal ruled out for offside.
Wales, to their credit, didn’t go away. Giggs introduced Connor Roberts and Billy Bodin for their debuts while Bale saw a free-kick deflected over by the Uruguayan wall. King and substitute Lee Evans had further efforts, but Bale was quiet on the whole as a ragged Wales came out on the wrong side of the result.