Cyprus come from behind to smash Wales
( AFP ) - Cyprus notched up another impressive home victory in this Euro 2008 Group D qualifier on Saturday night after coming from a goal behind to beat Wales 3-1.
Cypriot captain Yiannakis Okkas scored two second half goals and Costas Charalambides added another to win the game after the home side went behind after 21 minutes.
Man-of-the-match Okkas, the Celta Vigo player, rallied his troops after half-time to produce a resounding victory against a side supposedly better than them.
It was no more than the Cypriots deserved after they showed more passion and adventure going forward.
The poor performance by Wales will be another blemish on manager John Toshack's CV.
And it could have been more embarrassing as the chances reigned in on the Welsh goal as the visitors' resolve wilted under the pressure.
Wales opened the scoring against the run of play when West Ham's James Collins cooly side-footed the ball into the bottom left-hand corner from six-yards after meeting a Gareth Bale free kick.
Apart from the soft goal, the visitors created very little in the first half while the Cypriots came close when a Marios Nicolaou close-range header flashed wide and another header from Alexandros Garpozis found the keeper's grasp rather than the net.
After the interval the home side cranked up the tempo as they searched for an equaliser but it was Craig Bellamy who nearly doubled the lead on 54 minutes when his lifted shot was acrobatically palmed away by keeper Antonis Georgallides.
Finally, Cyprus got a deserved goal to level the game after Okkas headed past keeper Daniel Coyne on the hour.
The second came less than 10 minutes later when Okkas smashed the ball over the line after Efstathios Aloneftis had bundled the ball around the keeper.
Substitute Charalambides, of Germans Carl Zeiss Jena, put the result beyond doubt with a bullet header inside the six-yard box on 79 minutes.
The also-rans in Group D had nothing but pride to play for and Cyprus were aiming to extend an impressive home record, apart from the 3-1 blip against Slovakia.
Cyprus started with an attack-minded line-up with four forwards hoping to stretch the Welsh defence.
And the speedy Aloneftis, who plays for Cottbus in the Bundesliga, caused continual problems down the left while Okkas was always a handful.
Wales looked to break on the counter by utilising the pace of captain Bellamy, playing his first competitive gamer following a groin injury.
Cyprus now travel to Ireland on Wednesday.