Bale knows what to expect – Coleman

Published: Tuesday 14th October 2014 by The News Editor

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Chris Coleman insisted he had no complaints towards Cyprus over their brutal treatment of Gareth Bale as 10-man Wales stayed top of their European Championship qualifying group with a 2-1 victory in Cardiff on Monday night.

Nine players were booked in a bruising encounter at the Cardiff City Stadium and Wales midfielder Andy King was sent off two minutes into the second half, while Bale was on the wrong end of several Cypriot challenges which left him writhing on the floor in agony.

Cyprus had five players cautioned with Real Madrid star Bale clearly targeted by the visitors, but Wales manager Coleman’s disgust was directed at German referee Manuel Grafe rather than the visitors, who left their mark on the world’s most expensive player on more than one occasion.

“Baley knows before he walks on the pitch he’s going to get kicked. I know that, and I’m not complaining about that,” Coleman said.

“Cyprus have got to do what they think right’s to win the game, but the referee’s there for a reason – to make a decision.

“When we play opposition in their back yard, their star players get rewards, they get free-kicks – but it doesn’t happen for us.

“That makes you nervous and you lose a bit of trust with the officials.

“The red card was a heavy challenge but if he sends one of ours off surely he can send one or two of theirs off because they weren’t shy either.”

If Coleman was frustrated by the German referee, he had nothing but praise for his squad, who were without 11 injured players for the visit of Cyprus.

Substitute David Cotterill and Hal Robson-Kanu fired Wales into a two-goal lead inside 23 minutes but Vincent Laban pulled one back for Wales before half-time and King’s red card threatened to turn a party before a crowd of 21,273 into a wake.

Wales had to withstand plenty of Cypriot possession but Bale made light of his treatment to get his side up the pitch and buy them precious time.

“We probably don’t win that game in the last campaign. We didn’t have that same togetherness then, that’s for sure,” Coleman said.

“The players were absolutely magnificent. We’ve only had one defeat in eight games and we’ve not lost here for a year.

“People have questioned the players’ team spirit and (whether they) want to play for Wales, but I don’t think I have to answer that any more. As a nation, we can’t ask for any more.”

Wales’ win kept them one point above Israel, who triumphed in Andorra and have a game in hand, but they now lead group favourites Belgium by three points and have a five-point buffer over Bosnia-Herzegovina with the top two qualifying automatically and the third-placed team entering a play-off.

Coleman’s side head to Brussels next month but he insists they will not be daunted by a star-studded Red Devils side packed with Barclays Premier League talent.

“We won’t go there there thinking we’ve just got to do well,” he said.

“If we want to do well this campaign we must get a result there and we are good enough to do that.

“I don’t know who’s going to turn up because there’s always injuries – that’s the way it works – but I know whoever we’ve got we can get a result in Belgium.

“We did it in the last campaign – we had 15 players missing and got a draw there. That’s our mindset.

“We said after four or five games we want to be up there in the top three and we’ve got a chance of doing that now, but there’s still a lot of football and a lot of points to be played for in this group.”

Cyprus coach Charalampos Christodoulou denied his team had set out to intentionally hurt Bale.

“Tackles like that are part of the game. We saw dangerous tackles from both teams,” he said.

Published: Tuesday 14th October 2014 by The News Editor

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