San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Ticos beat Wales in memorial match

Wales failed to mark their first match since the death of manager Gary Speed with a victory as they lost 1-0 to Costa Rica in an international friendly at the Cardiff City Stadium on Wednesday.

Arsenal youngster Joel Campbell scored the only goal for the Central Americans, warming up for CONCACAF competition.

But this was no ordinary friendly for Wales or even a warm-up for the 2014 World Cup qualifiers. Instead it was a highly emotional fixture for Wales, their first since the death of popular and respected former midfielder Speed, found hanged at his home in November. Costa Rica was chosen for the memorial game because Speed played his first international match as a player in 1990 against La Sele. 

Wales manager Chris Coleman acknowledged he and his players had found it hard to cope with the special atmosphere of the match.

Amid the tributes for Speed before kick-off, arguably the most moving was when fans held up cards that spelt out “GARY” in the middle of a Welsh flag after his sons had run out with Craig Bellamy, a friend of the former manager, who was captaining his country in the absence through injury of Aaron Ramsey.

But it wasn’t long before the Costa Rica team, who last year drew with Argentina and world champions Spain, had taken a seventh-minute lead against a Wales side without Tottenham winger Gareth Bale.

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