Football: Wales fall to surprise defeat by Albania

Wales' Gareth Bale (centre) is escorted by bodyguards as children try to take photos of him after the match.
Wales' Gareth Bale (centre) is escorted by bodyguards as children try to take photos of him after the match.PHOTO: AFP

ELBASAN, Albania (AFP) - Wales lost 1-0 to Albania in a friendly in Elbasan on Tuesday (Nov 20) as Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale was restricted to a second-half cameo as a substitute.

The only goal of the game came as Bekim Balaj converted from the penalty spot after 58 minutes as Derby winger Harry Wilson brought down Taulant Xhaka - brother of Arsenal and Switzerland midfielder Granit - in the box.

Bale came onto the field as did Arsenal playmaker Aaron Ramsey shortly after as coach Ryan Giggs attempted to avoid a surprising defeat to the team ranked 60th in the world but it was to no avail.

In a frustrating evening for the visitors Bale was shown a yellow card after 83 minutes for a needless tackle on Xhaka.

The best chance for Giggs's outfit fell to Burnley forward Sam Vokes whose weak effort from five yards out was parried away easily by Albanian goalkeeper Etrit Berisha during stoppage time in the first half.

Defender Chris Gunter captained Wales to became his country's most-capped male footballer of all time, surpassing former Everton goalkeeper Neville Southall on 93 appearances.

The result was Wales' second straight loss after being beaten 2-1 to Denmark in the Nations League on Friday.

"It will hurt for a while because we don't like to lose back-to-back games so it's disappointing and we'll take a few days to get over it," Gunter told television channel S4C.

"I said before the game it wasn't about myself, it was about the team coming here and putting on a good performance and a good result to end the year which is disappointing," he added.