Wales boss Chris Coleman defends Ashley Williams mistake

Wales manager Chris Coleman defended Ashley Williams after the defender's poor back-pass helped Croatia to a 2-0 World Cup qualifying win in Osijek.

Williams' mistake allowed Mario Mandzukic to charge down goalkeeper Lewis Price's clearance to score.

"Ashley is a top-class defender, but that end of the pitch was very sticky and the ball got stuck," Coleman said.

"That made it difficult for Pricey, the striker closed him down and he couldn't go anywhere."

Eduardo Da Silva's header midway through the second half doubled the home side's lead and left Wales struggling in Group A after three defeats in their first four World Cup qualifiers.

Fifa 2014 World Cup Qualifying Group A

Played Won Points

Belgium

4

3

10

Croatia

4

3

10

Serbia

4

1

4

FYR Macedonia

4

1

4

Wales

4

1

3

Scotland

4

0

2

Coleman, who has now tasted defeat five times in six games since succeeding the late Gary Speed, remained positive about the way his players continued to battle at the Gradski Stadium.

"We knew it would be difficult," Coleman added.

"What was pleasing for me was when we conceded the second goal we didn't disappear, we stuck at it - although we needed to get a quick goal back.

"The players didn't give up or fold, whatever they had they gave to us. We took a few more chances offensively and on another night we might have had a goal.

"But (Croatia) deserved the three points. We were beaten by a very good team but we can take some heart out of that performance."