Hughes defends players


Mark Hughes was forced to defend his team from an attack by John Toshack, after claiming this draw was the best display under his management.

Hughes had seen his hardworking heroes get to within 10 minutes of a famous victory after a stunning Nathan Blake header had sent 51,000 Welsh hearts soaring.

Thorstein Helstad's scrambled equaliser forced a fortunate draw for Norway before Toshack launched his verbal broadside.

A clearly surprised Hughes hit back, saying: "If people want to criticise easy targets because they think they can criticise the senior players in the squad, they have to live with that and be honest with themselves and honest with what they have seen."

Toshack had said: "With the sort of players that Wales have in John Hartson, Gary Speed and Nathan Blake, they should be competing more consistently."

Wales: P Jones, Delaney, Page, Melville, C Coleman, Savage, J Robinson, Hartson (I Roberts 86), Blake, Speed, Giggs. Subs Not Used: M Jones, Symons, Barnard, C Robinson, Freestone. Goals: Blake 60.

Norway: Olsen, Basma, Johnsen, Berg, Bjornebye, Iversen (Flo 59), Mykland, Leonhardsen, E Bakke (Helstad 78), Solskjaer, Strand. Subs Not Used: M Bakke, Bragstad, Hoftun, Skammelsrud, Riseth. Booked: E. Bakke, Johnsen. Goals: Helstad 80. Att: 51,000.

Referee: Hartmut Strampe (Germany).