James Collins and Craig Bellamy both played the full 90 minutes as Wales narrowly lost out 1-0 in Germany in a gritty World Cup qualifier.
The West Ham United duo turned in excellent performances but could not prevent the home team in Monchengladbach from stealing the points through Piotr Trochowski's well-taken 72nd-minute goal. Collins was imperious at the back, not least with some timely headers and blocks, on what was his first senior start since last December and a knee ligament injury. Describing his club-mate's man of the match display as "outstanding", Bellamy added: " We can take heart from it but we have still lost twice [away from home in the group]. We are doing well but just seem to be falling short."
It was captain Bellamy, getting a welcome 90 minutes after his 80-minute run-out in Saturday's 2-0 win against Liechtenstein, that held the best hope for the Wales side. He went close early in the second half with the score level before a moment of brilliance in the 80th-minute nearly produced an equaliser. He raced away on the left of the attack, beat his man with ease and then cut inside. The striker then slipped the ball across the penalty area but Chris Gunter could not convert.
Wales are level on six points with second-placed Russia in Group 4 but have played a game more than their rivals. Both teams are four points adrift of Germany and a key encounter could be Russia's return trip to Wales next September, having won 1-0 in Moscow last month. In the European qualifying zone, the winners of each group will progress to the 2010 World Cup. The eight best runners-up will then be drawn into four play-off matches with the winners of each two-legged tie joining the pool winners in South Africa.