Edinson Cavani sinks Wales with decisive goal in China Cup final
Paris St Germain forward was the match-winner in China.
Wales were beaten by Uruguay in the China Cup final as Edinson Cavani celebrated winning his 100th cap in style.
Cavani settled an entertaining contest four minutes into the second half, tapping home his 42nd international goal into an unguarded net.
A 41,000-plus crowd filled the Guangxi Sports Center in Nanning, with most of them enthralled by the match-up between Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale and Barcelona’s Luis Suarez.
The pair had been the stars of the semi-finals, Bale scoring a hat-trick in Wales’ 6-0 rout of the hosts and Suarez scoring his 50th goal for Uruguay in their 2-0 victory over the Czech Republic.
This was only the second meeting of the two nations with the previous game being a goalless draw at Wrexham in 1986.
Wales boss Ryan Giggs named the same side which had thrashed China, while Uruguay made one change from their semi-final line-up with veteran midfielder Cristian Rodriguez recalled.
Suarez should have scored within two minutes when Nahitan Nandez pulled the ball back into his path, but he could only strike the post from 12 yards.
In a breathless beginning, Bale’s 30-yard shot also brought a save from Fernando Muslera before he sent Harry Wilson scampering down the right.
Wilson picked out Sam Vokes in the middle but his half-volley was comfortably held by Muslera.
Uruguay lost defender Jose Maria Gimenez to an eighth-minute injury, but Bale’s poor crossfield pass allowed them to break and set up a Suarez cross which Cavani could not quite reach.
There was a real openness about the game and Andy King advanced to fire straight at Muslera from 20 yards before the stretching Matias Vecino sent Rodriguez’s cross just wide.
Suarez was a constant nuisance and Joe Allen was booked for up-ending him on the halfway line as he threatened to burst through.
Then, just past the half-hour mark, with Wales guilty of overplaying at the back, Suarez latched onto Ashley Williams’ under-hit backpass.
Suarez went around Wayne Hennessey and an opening goal seemed inevitable, but again the ball cannoned off a Welsh post.
Another Wales mistake, this time James Chester failing to cut out Suarez’s pass, saw Cavani force an excellent save from Hennessey.
Uruguay were the more dangerous team, but Wales still had promising moments in attack.
King again surged onto a clever Bale touch to force Muslera to push the ball to safety, and in the final seconds of the half the Uruguay goalkeeper produced another fine stop.
Wilson’s free-kick was flicked goalwards by Bale and Muslera did just enough as Vokes lurked for a telling touch.
Uruguay struck four minutes after half-time when Rodriguez got in behind the Wales defence and squared for Cavani to convert the simplest of tap-ins.
Cavani should have scored again moments later but he failed to make contact with only Hennessey to beat.
Wales were starting to look ragged with Suarez and Cavani finding gaps, and their only respite was a Bale free-kick which was blocked.
A raft of substitutions did not help the game’s flow in the final quarter, but there was no denying Uruguay a deserved victory.