Coleman guided Wales to the semi-finals of Euro 2016
By talkSPORT – @talkSPORT
Tuesday, November 14, 2017
Chris Coleman marked what could be his final game as Wales manager with a 1-1 draw against World Cup finalists Panama.
Tom Lawrence’s 75th-minute wonderful solo strike – his second Wales goal – looked like settling a hard-fought friendly in Cardiff.
But Wales, who saw Sam Vokes fail to convert a first-half penalty, were pegged back in the third minute of stoppage time when Armando Cooper rifled past Darren Ward.
Coleman has yet to sign a new contract, with talks set to resume after this match, but he was left in no doubt as to what the Wales fans want as they encouraged him to stay.
Wales had a glimpse of their future on Friday when Ben Woodburn, Ethan Ampadu and David Brooks all came on as second-half substitutes in the 2-0 defeat to France in Paris.
The trio all started here for the first time against World Cup-bound opponents who were vastly more experienced than their hosts.
Panama manager Hernan Dario Gomez was able to name an experienced side boasting 574 caps, while Coleman sent out a team with only 305 to their name.
A large chunk of those belonged to Chris Gunter, who wore the captain’s armband on a night when he equalled Gary Speed’s 85-cap record for an outfield player.
The young trio were prominent in a first half in which Wales were the better side but unable to penetrate resilient opponents.
All three were involved when Ampadu charged down a Panama clearance and Brooks crossed to the far post for Woodburn to send a header into the arms of goalkeeper Jaime Penedo.
Panama looked nervous, and a lack of composure in their defence saw the ball run loose for Vokes to drill narrowly wide from 25 yards.
Ampadu was involved at the hub of the action, first releasing Brooks with a delicious ball which ended up in the side-netting and then being booked for a rash challenge on Gabriel Torres.
Wales were playing some neat football without finding a clinical edge and Neil Taylor was unable to convert after being slipped through by Woodburn.
Panama finally broke their defensive cover but efforts from Torres and Leslie Heraldez were a long way from testing Darren Ward in the Wales goal.
The lively Brooks was the next to go close with a deflected drive but Wales were given the perfect opportunity to take the lead when Luis Ovalle upended David Edwards.
But Vokes’ penalty was too close to Penado and the ball was scrambled clear after the goalkeeper guessed correctly to his right.
Panama should have been ahead after 55 minutes when the Wales defence stopped and waited for an offside flag which never came.
Torres appeared to over-run the ball, but Ward failed to collect as he came out and Gunter just got back in time to avert the danger.
Gunter was soon involved at the other end but Brooks failed to trouble Penedo from 20 yards.
Ampadu left the field to a standing ovation at the three-quarter mark as a rash of substitutions inevitably disrupted the rhythm of the contest.
But Lawrence then took possession on the left before cutting inside and finishing with a well-struck shot into the corner of Penedo’s net.
Substitute Andrew Crofts almost added a second when Penedo batted away his stinging 25-yard effort.
Ward held Fidel Escobar’s late free-kick, but he had no chance when Cooper was slipped through and earned Panama a share of the spoils.