Wales have reached the World Cup finals for the first time in 64 years after edging past Ukraine in Cardiff.
The only goal of the game came 11 minutes before the break when Gareth Bale drove a free kick at goal which Georgiy Bushchan seemed to have covered only for Andriy Yarmolenko, attempting to clear with a header falling backwards, to divert the ball into the net.
Ukraine had a claim for a penalty in the 39th minute when, shortly after Wayne Hennessey had scrambled across his line to deny a shot from Oleksandr Zinchinko, Yarmolenko got to the ball before Joe Allen cleared the ball and was struck by the Welsh player's swinging boot. After a VAR check the non-decision stood.
Premier League
Haaland! Messi! Spurs! Man Utd… Football, football, everywhere – The Warm-Up
08/08/2022 AT 07:10
Ukraine had more of the ball in the second half but they were denied by the superb defending of Ben Davies and saves of Hennessey, with a particularly notable stop from Artem Dovbyk coming in the closing stages.
Wales could have stretched the lead in the second half when substitute Brennan Johnson slammed a shot against the post with almost his first touch, with Aaron Ramsey also side-footing wide from in front of goal and Bushchan denying Bale from point-blank range.
The Millennium Stadium crowd erupted into delirium when the referee blew the final whistle earning Gareth Bale, Rob Page and the Welsh team a well-earned place in their national sporting folklore.
Wales will play in Group B in Qatar alongside England, Iran and the United States.

TALKING POINT

Have to feel for Ukraine - As much as these matches should be about the winning side, it would take a stone heart not to reflect on the effort of Ukraine to get to this point and feel enormous sympathy for their skipper Andriy Yarmolenko who's error ultimately ensured his side will not play on the world stage in Qatar. The duty these players must have felt looking at a Ukraine flag signed by representatives from the front line in their dressing room before the game can rarely have been matched in the history of the sport.
But after the shared jubilation after the fantastic victory at Hampden Park on Wednesday, here team members were in tears applauding their vocal support in the Millennium Stadium. The players have given their country welcome distraction in the darkest of times and can be proud of their efforts.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Ben Davies (Wales) - He will never be the easiest player on the eye with the ball at his feet but there are few better competitors than the Tottenham defender. On three occasions in the second half when Ukraine threatened to grab an equaliser the Welsh stalwart dived in to make perfectly-timed challenges. If any Wales player wondered whether they could hang on in the second half, they only had to look at their most experienced defender and replicate the desire he put into every involvement he had in the game. It is no wonder, Antonio Conte sees him as part of his Spurs line-up going forward despite big investment coming over the summer.

PLAYER RATINGS

Wales: Hennessey 8; Ampadu 7, Rodon 6, B. Davies 9*; Roberts 6, Ramsey 6, Allen 6, N. Williams 8; James 7, Moore 6, Bale 7.
Subs: Johnson 8, Wilson 6, Norrington-Davies 6.
Ukraine: Bushchan 6; Karavaev 6, Zabarnyi 7, Matviyenko 7, Mykolenko 7; Malinovskyi 7, Stepanenko 6, Zinchenko 7; Yarmolenko 6, Yaremchuk 6, Tsygankov 6.
Subs: Sydorchuk 7, Shaparenko 7, Dovbyk 6, Mudryk 6.

MATCH HIGHLIGHTS

34' GOAL FOR WALES! It took a huge deflection. Bale drove a free kick which it looked like the Ukrainian keeper was behind but Yarmolenko diving backwards heads the ball into his own net.
49' GREAT CHANCE FOR RAMSEY! He had to score. A fantastic move from Wales with James running 40 yards with the ball before slipping it left to Moore who pulled back for Ramsey but the ex-Arsenal man missed the target with his sidefoot.
56' ANOTHER STOP FROM HENNESSEY! Tsigankov gets his toe to Mykolenko's low cross but Hennessey saved the effort and then Yaremchuk just can't get the rebound on target.
75' OFF THE POST! Roberts crossed from the right by-line over the head of Moore but at the back post Johnson shot against the post.
76' GREAT CHANCE FOR BALE! Johnson runs into the area and slides a ball wide to Ramsey who finds Bale all alone at the far post but though he gets a good contact on his low shot Bushchan saves diving to his right.
84' FANTASTIC SAVE FROM HENNESSEY! Substitute Dovbyk rises to head Mykolenko's cross with a firm header but Hennessey parries away superbly and once more Davies is there to block the rebound.

KEY STAT

  • 15 - The number of World Cup Finals since Wales were last involved
Transfers
Man City turn to Cucurella after Arsenal agree terms for Zinchenko – Paper Round
18/07/2022 AT 22:03
MLS
'I haven't come here for the short term' - Bale eyeing longevity at Los Angeles FC
12/07/2022 AT 14:36