20 May

On this day in 1992, Wales were beaten 5-1 in the opening game of their 1994 World Cup qualifying campaign.

Looking back at how close Wales came to qualifying for the World Cup in the USA it’s astonishing to realise that the opening game of the group ended in a sound thrashing against Romania in Bucharest.

The captain and Real Madrid star, Gheorge Hagi, opened the scoring for Romania after just five minutes and while the Welsh defence was still reeling from that sucker punch, Ioan Lupescu added a second two minutes later.

The home team, who had put seven goals past the Faroes Islands a fortnight earlier, were on fire and it was only a matter of time before the Welsh defence was breached again.

Bayer Leverkusen midfielder, Lupescu, bagged his second of the game before Gavril Balint added a fourth – all before the half hour mark.

Hagi rubbed salt into the Welsh wounds with a fifth Romanian goal 10 minutes before the break meaning Ian Rush’s second half goal was scant consolation for Terry Yorath’s side.

This was the most goals Neville Southall had conceded in his 58 international appearances … until he conceded another five against Georgia in 1994, seven against the Netherlands in 1996 and six in his last international match against Turkey in 1997.


Romania: Bogdan Stelea, Dan Petrescu, Gheorghe Mihali, Miodrag Belodedici, Dorinel Munteanu, Ioan Sabău (Ion Timofte 78′), Gheorghe Popescu, Ioan Lupescu, Gheorghe Hagi (Gábor Gerstenmájer 71′), Marius Lăcătuş, Gavril Balint.

Wales: Neville Southall, Dave Phillips, Mark Aizlewood, Andy Melville, Dean Saunders, Barry Horne, Mark Hughes, Gary Speed,Mark Bowen (Clayton Blackmore 79′), Mark Pembridge (Ryan Giggs 57′), Ian Rush.