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Wonderful Wales qualify for the World Cup play offs !
Tuesday, 16th Nov 2021 22:03 by Gruff Stephens

Wales 1 Belgium 1 : Wales qualified for the March 2022 World Cup play offs in fine style against the worlds number one side Belgium. Needing a win, or a point on a night that the Czech Republic needed to win and hope Wales slipped up, it was a nail biter at times. The Czech’s won so Wales had to get the draw they needed, and they did.

Wales started the game very positively, as did the crowd tonight, a more united and passionate support was evident with flags from all over Wales noticeable. Despite the missing Gareth Bale the home side looked industrious for the first ten minutes. Dan James, Connor Roberts and Aaron Ramsey linked well with Kieffer Moore who was a constant thorn in the side of the Belgians defence. Martinez had made a few changes at the back but it was the likes of Origi and De Bruyne who looked more dangerous as the half went on.

Kevin De Bruyne opens the scoring in fine style

It was Belgium who opened the scoring through Kevin De Bruyne who answered the home crowds jeers with a sublime shot after Wales failed to clear properly. His measured shot bent away from keeper Danny Ward, and to be honest it was unstoppable. A moment of pure class. Wales though remained in the game, and albeit they took another ten minutes to get over the goal, Neco Williams started to dominate the opposition. He most certainly was carrying on from Saturday nights game against Belarus.

Koen Casteels in action as Wales' Kieffer Moore scores the home sides first goal

Wales had to show far more desire than they did on Saturday night, and the closing down on Belgium’s danger men was required throughout the first forty five minutes. Hassling and closing down giving the opposition players no space or time was the obvious plan from the start of the game. Word has to be mentioned to Thorgan Hazard who struck a superb shot from a corner set piece. However, Wales running and pure graft worked, and a very satisfied Rob Page and Kit Symons left pitch side at half time.

Dan James supplies the cross for Moore to score

Neco Williams took the game by the scruff of the neck in the second half and Belgium hardly threatened. It was Wales who pressed through Dan James primarily as the referee started to issue yellow cards more rapidly, stop starting the game. Belgium continued to knock the ball around with the greatest possession stats but it was Wales who continued to pick their pockets. It was only a questionable linesman decision for a throw in that prevented Moore getting a second.

With the Czech Republic now winning against Estonia, Wales knew they had to hold out, but it was Neco Williams who didn’t read the script. A wonderful shot after a cross field pass to Williams by Connor Roberts stung the Belgium keepers hands, it looked in all the way. Wales clearly were not settling for the draw. The Belgians looked stunned with Martinez bringing on more replacements to shore up his defence. Mention has to be made for the Wales defence as well, marshalled so well by Joe Rodon. It wasn’t backs against the wall at all tonight. Wales were more than a match for the worlds number one side. And having the better chances to win the game Page will be delighted.

Roberto Martinez kept his countries no losses record intact

When the six minute extra time board was held up the Wales crowd sighed, Belgium pushed on, and Wales started to tire. Ben Davies and Connor Roberts, with Joe Rodon making up a solid Ex Swansea City defence for their national side looked exhausted. it was Aaron Ramsey who left the pitch on ninety three minutes. A deflected shot by Trosaard rebounding off Davies worried Wales as the referee again looked at his watch. From the corner Ward pulled off a save low down to his right.

This is a wall, it’s red, and it’s united

It was only when Kieffer Moore was actually adjudged the victim of a tackle that the game looked over. A mighty effort by Wales, they qualify for the play offs as a seeded side. And that’s all Wales ever wanted at the start of this campaign. The job isn’t done, but it’s another step closer.

Wales: Ward; Mepham, Rodon, B Davies; C Roberts, Ramsey (C) (Johnson 90+3), Allen, Morrell, N Williams; Moore, James.

Subs not used: Hennessey, A Davies, Gunter, Wilson, T Roberts, J Williams, Colwill, Norrington-Davies, Lawrence, Vaulks, Thomas.

Goal: Moore 32

Yellow cards: 🟨 Morrell 34, Moore 80

Belgium: Casteels; Castagne (Dendoncker 58), Boyata, Theate (Vertonghen 85); Meunier (Trossard 85), Witsel, De Bruyne (C), T Hazard; Vanaken, Origi (Vanzeir 58), De Ketelaere (Saelemaekers 58).

Subs not used: Sels, Kaminski, Faes, Carrasco, Mertens, Benteke, Sambi Lokonga.

Goal: De Bruyne 12

Yellow cards: 🟨 T Hazard 71, Saelemaekers 75, Dendoncker 82

Referee: Artur Dias 5/10

Attendance: 32,401

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Photographs licensed from Reuters

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