Thursday, March 29, 2018

29 March 2000 - (Un)Welcome Home, Wales

On 29 March 2000, Wales played their first match at the new Millenium Stadium in Cardiff. And lost 1-2.

Built on the site of the old national ground, Cardiff Arms Park, construction on the stadium finished in the summer of 1999 at a total cost of £121 million. The Welsh rugby team hosted the first major event there, beating South Africa in a friendly.

The football team's turn came the following spring, as they hosted Finland in a friendly of their own. A crowd of 65,000 showed up for the event, setting a new national team record (though it has since been broken). Unfortunately for the home fans, however, Finnish midfielder Jari Litmanen (pictured, battling Wales' Robbie Savage) scored the opening goal in the 21st minute. Welsh striker Nathan Blake found the back of the net in the 42nd minute, but it was the wrong net, putting the Finns up 0-2.

Ryan Giggs pulled one back in the 60th minute, but that was the last goal of the day and Finland left as 1-2 winners.