LONDON (AFP) – Real Madrid new-boy Gareth Bale was an unused substitute as Wales crashed to a 2-1 defeat in their World Cup qualifier against Macedonia on Friday.
Bale joined up with his country on Monday after the completion of his long-awaited switch from Tottenham Hotspur to Madrid, but Wales boss Chris Coleman opted not to send on the winger at the Philip II Arena in Skopje despite the team's lacklustre performance.
The 24-year-old, who has not played any football since July, signed a six-year contract with the Spanish giants, who paid a fee of around ??80 million ($124 million, 94 million euros).
Reports in Britain say Madrid paid a world-record fee of ??86 million for Bale, but Spanish estimates put the fee at around ??77 million.
And with Bale left on the sidelines amid concerns over his match fitness, a difficult week for Coleman ended on a low note.
Coleman had missed Wales' final preparations for the fixture after having to obtain a replacement travel document and then fly to Skopje from Heathrow via Vienna late on Thursday.
His long-winded journey for the Group A fixture was to prove fruitless as Ivan Trickovski fired the home side in front in the 21st minute.
Arsenal's in-form midfielder Aaron Ramsey equalised from the penalty spot in the 39th minute, but Macedonia substitute Aleksandar Trajkovski hit the winner 10 minutes from time.