Wales 0 Serbia 3
WALES slumped to the bottom of their World Cup qualifying group as they surrendered 3-0 to Serbia at a meagrely-populated Cardiff City Stadium.
With Scotland winning in Macedonia – where Wales had lost on Friday – Chris Coleman’s men suffered the added ignominy of propping up the Group A table.
Goals from Filip Djordjevic, Aleksandar Kolarov and Lazar Markovic gave Serbia a handsome victory, taking their tally of goals scored against Wales in this campaign to nine.
This match did not quite scale the same levels of humiliation as last year’s 6-1 mauling in Novi Sad, but not even a late cameo from Gareth Bale could give events in Cardiff a positive gloss.
Any lingering hopes of qualifying for next summer’s World Cup had been definitively buried by last Friday’s demoralising 2-1 defeat in Macedonia.
The nondescript nature of that loss meant pride – as well as world ranking points – was at stake at the Cardiff City Stadium.
But both took yet another significant hit against a Serbian side which could barely have wished for an easier evening’s work.
Coleman made five changes to the Welsh team which was beaten by Macedonia, most of which were enforced.
With captain Ashley Williams suspended, his Swansea City team-mate Ben Davies was handed a first ever senior start at centre-back.
He was paired with Danny Gabbidon, who was making his first appearance for Wales since February 2012, and Adam Matthews was brought in at left-back.
It was an unfamiliar back four, and it showed as the Welsh defence played like four strangers who had been thrown together moments before kick-off.
Poor positioning and a lack of communication invited early Serbian pressure, and only eight minutes had elapsed when the visitors took the lead.
After Boaz Myhill saved from Filip Djuricic’s header, Djordjevic was played onside by Andrew Crofts and free to nod in from close range.
Wales could have fallen further behind shortly afterwards, but Branislav Ivanovic’s header from a Kolarov corner flew wide.
The hosts were fortunate on that occasion – and when Ljubomir Fejsa’s effort was parried by Myhill – but their luck ran out six minutes before the interval.
Manchester City’s Kolarov possesses a left foot of such power and destruction that lesser mortals would require a licence to use it in public.
But Wales seemed wilfully unaware of this threat as they invited the left-back forward and allowed him to unleash a homing missile of a 30-yard shot into the top corner.
Coleman’s men made some meek attempts to draw level but, just ten minutes after the restart, Serbia extended their advantage as Markovic pounced on a rebound to poke the ball under Myhill.
By this point the Welsh fans had resorted to gallows humour to clear their minds of the horror show unfolding before them.
The loudest cheer of the night was reserved for the 58th-minute introduction of Bale, now the world’s most expensive player if anyone needed reminding.
The Real Madrid winger managed a couple of shots on his return from injury, but not even the presence of a galactico could lift Wales as they stumbled to their miserable fate.
Once the novelty of Bale’s appearance had worn off, it was the Welsh fans’ cries of “We want Coleman out” which summed up the mood.