Wales defeat Ukraine to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar

(Football news) Wales secured qualification for their first World Cup since 1958 after a 1-0 win over Ukraine in the play-off final at the Cardiff City Stadium. An own goal for Andriy Yarmolenko in the 34th minute from Gareth Bale’s freekick was the decisive moment of the match. Wales goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey put up a sublime performance to deny Ukraine what could have been a comfortable win, saving nine shots during the match, the most attempts by any team without scoring during the 2022 European World Cup qualifying campaign.

It was unfortunate for Ukraine, who have performed brilliantly leading up to the play-off final and showed a level of football that deserved a place at the 2022 World Cup. However, Wales showed extreme grit and determination which has resulted in 12 clean sheets in 19 matches and had a few chances of their own with Brennan Johnson hitting the post and Bale being denied by Georgiy Bushchan. 

Speaking after the match, Wales goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey said “It's absolutely incredible, not just for me but everyone who's been on this pitch tonight, the lads who didn't get on, the staff, everyone. It was probably my best game in a Wales shirt, at such a key stage obviously. You have to give credit to Ukraine who are a fantastic team, but I'm absolutely buzzing. We've got a good generation, young lads, older lads who have been there, even the members of staff. They've been fantastic and fully deserve it." 

Wales captain Gareth Bale said “The result is the greatest result in the history of Welsh football. We're ecstatic, we're going to a World Cup. It's what dreams are made of, it's what we've been working towards since we first came here. I'm speechless, we're so happy, we did it for all our amazing fans and words can't describe how I'm feeling at the moment. It was a difficult game, I haven't done so much over the last four weeks because of my back spasm. It was tough to get through the game but the most important thing was to get through." 

Wales will now face the Netherlands on Wednesday in the Nations League and Belgium on Saturday. As for Ukraine, they will take on the Republic of Ireland on Wednesday followed by a ‘home’ game against Armenia in Lodz, Poland followed by the Republic of Ireland again.

Also read: Ronaldo leads Portugal to comfortable win; Spain score late equaliser


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