World Cup 2022 Latest: Wales Qualify

Published on 06/07/2022

As the World Cup draws nearer and nearer, we are finally seeing the last of the teams qualify for the tournament. Ukraine bypassed Scotland earlier in the week, to set themselves up for a grand final against Wales. Follow on to see just how that went…

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World Cup 2022 Latest: Wales Qualify

Wales Were Victorious

On a night of intense emotion and drama in Cardiff, Wales overcame another monumental effort from Ukraine to qualify for their first World Cup since 1958. The Ukrainians were deeply impressive once again, but fell just short in their attempt to reach only their second World Cup in their history, after defeating Scotland in an emotionally draining semi-final four days earlier. With the backdrop of their country’s war with Russia, the Ukrainians were deeply impressive once again, but fell just short in their attempt to reach only their second World Cup in their history. Wales, on the other hand, did so at a euphoric Cardiff City Stadium. Gareth Bale’s first-half free-kick was clumsily headed in by Ukraine captain Andriy Yarmolenko, a terrible manner for the visitors to surrender after dominating up to that point.

Not Glamorous

The celebrations inside a deafening Cardiff City Stadium highlighted to how therapeutic it is for this footballing nation to end its 64-year World Cup wait. Now Wales can look forward to competing in football’s most prestigious tournament in November, where they will be joined by England, the United States, and Iran in their group in Qatar.

Ukraine Put In A Spirited Performance

This Ukrainian team has been an inspiration, playing against the backdrop of Russia’s invasion of their homeland. They were cheered on by their ardent supporters in Cardiff, including 100 refugees who were granted free tickets by the Football Association of Wales, while home fans showed their admiration for the away team with heartfelt applause before kick-off. However, Wales’ mantra in the build-up to this game – as cold as it may have seemed – was that they needed to remove the emotion from the situation and momentarily set compassion aside.

A 64 Year Wait

Welsh football history is riddled with tales of near misses since their only prior World Cup appearance in 1958. Wales has been on the verge of history before, from Scotland in 1977 and 1985 to Romania in 1993, only to fall short at the last hurdle. But this is a different epoch. This is Wales’ golden age, and their players are free of the burdens of the past. Welsh football reached new heights by qualifying for Euro 2016 and reaching the semi-finals for the first time in France, ending a 58-year wait for a major tournament. Then they went on to qualify for Euro 2020, but a World Cup is a whole different ballgame.

While this Wales team was free of the baggage of prior defeats, Robert Page’s men were not going to make things easy for themselves. Wales got off to a shaky start, rushing into challenges and receiving yellow cards for Joe Allen and Daniel James within the first two minutes as Ukraine dominated the opening exchanges. The visitors dominated possession and forced Hennessey to make a flurry of early stops, while Oleksandr Zinchenko had a goal disallowed for firing too quickly from a free-kick.

While Ukraine’s raucous blue and yellow contingent reveled in their team’s energetic start, a palpable air of anxiety pervaded the Cardiff City Stadium crowd. Their fears grew when Zinchenko, working his magic in midfield, pulled Hennessey into action once more with a powerful left-footed strike from long range.

Who Else But Bale?

Despite the Ukrainian siege, it was Bale – who else – who created the moment that led to Wales’ first goal, with some luck. For the opening half-hour, the Wales captain smashed a free-kick towards the Ukrainian goal, but it was directed in by the diving Yarmolenko as the ball seemed to be drifting wide. Ukraine’s captain thought he had a chance to make amends when he appeared to be tripped by Allen inside the Wales box, but no penalty was awarded after a VAR review.

The longer Wales went without scoring a second goal, the more nervousness returned as Ukraine increased its pressure. Hennessey made a spectacular flying save to deny Artem Dovbyk, and the Ukrainian attempts became increasingly frantic as time passed. Their devotion was flawless, as was Wales’, as they stood steady in the face of adversity to free a nation from its history.