DAVID Brooks' first goal for Wales could not prevent defeat against Croatia.

The Cherries winger, who missed the final two Premier League games of the season through injury, was only fit enough for a place on the bench for Ryan Giggs' men.

But with Wales trailing 2-0, Brooks was introduced with 25 minutes to play and he made an instant impact.

The winger halved the deficit after shifting the ball onto his right foot and letting fly from 20 yards with a deflection from Domagoj Vida helping it into the net.

"It was difficult leaving him (Brooks) on the bench but it was the right thing to do,” said manager Giggs.

"He's only trained two days. With the game on Tuesday as well, he missed the last few games for Bournemouth.

"He's such a talent and he made a difference when he came on. But if I have to make those decisions, he can come on and make an impact which he did.”

Brooks' Cherries team-mate Chris Mepham played the full 90 minutes in Osijek, the 21-year-old taking to six his senior international caps tally.

He produced some vital defensive interventions to deny Andrej Kramaric and Luka Modric but was powerless to prevent centre-back partner James Lawrence from turning into his own net to give Croatia the lead.

And what turned out to be the winning goal arrived just two minutes after the restart when Ivan Perisic capitalised on some sloppy play in the Wales defence to score.

Brooks gave the visitors hope with 13 minutes to play. Giggs' charges pushed for a late leveller but Harry Wilson headed over the crossbar.

The 2-1 defeat leaves Wales third in Group E ahead of a trip to Hungary on Tuesday.