Wales must avoid more Russian heartache, says Allen

(Reuters) – Wales midfielder Joe Allen said he hoped memories of their agonizing Euro 2004 playoff defeat to Russia will spur them on to grab a last 16 spot when they meet the same opponents in their Group B clash at the European Championship on Monday.

After finishing second to Italy in their qualifying group, Wales lost 1-0 to Russia over two legs in 2003 and were denied a place at the following year’s European Championship in Portugal.

“To come so close was disappointing. It was something we all had to endure together in Welsh football,” Allen told his club Liverpool’s website (www.liverpoolfc.com).

“But we have come a long way since then and we’re confident we can maybe use those disappointments of the past in modern times.

“A couple of years ago, when we started this qualifying campaign, our one and only goal was to get here. Once that was done, we didn’t want to make it a case of just being tourists here to take part.”

Wales, who play Russia in Toulouse, marked their first appearance at a major tournament since 1958 with a 2-1 victory over Slovakia on June 11 before losing 2-1 to England in their second group fixture on Thursday.

(Reporting by Ian Rodricks in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)