YEREVAN (Reuters)–Armenia and Wales battled to an entertaining 2-2 draw in their World Cup European group five qualifier on Saturday–a result which does little for either team’s hopes of reaching next year’s finals.
The Armenia’s drew first blood in the 32nd minute when defender Artak Minasyan was the first to get to a loose ball after a goalmouth scramble and beat Paul Jones from close range.
Wales–playing without injured Manchester United winger Ryan Giggs–replied eight minutes later through John Hartson. The Coventry City striker put the visitors ahead with his second of the game four minutes after the interval with a great curving shot into the top corner from 18 meters.
Armenia goalkeeper Arutyun Abramyan kept the home side in the match on several occasions–including dangerous shots by Robert Page and Craig Bellamy.
But the Armenia’s battled back and Andrei Movsesyan struck a deserved equalizer in the 71st minute with a long-range effort.
Wales had the better of the play in the final minutes but were denied by Abramyan and the Armenian defense.
Coach Mark Hughes was visibly disappointed. "Football is a game where anything is possible," he said. "The result leaves us with nothing else but to do our best in our next matches–starting against Ukraine on Wednesday."
The draw left Wales in fourth place with just three points from four matches–while Armenia remained bottom of the group on two points after four games.