Gareth Bale’s Wales defeated Ukraine by a slender margin of 1-0 to finalise their place in the FIFA 2022 World Cup scheduled to be played in Qatar from November this year. The win ended Wales’ 64-year wait for a place in the World Cup finals. The loss knocked out war-torn Ukraine of the World Cup leaving the players heartbroken on the pitch.
Ukraine lost after conceding an own goal in the first half of the match after Gareth Bale’s freekick was put into the net by Ukraine winger Andriy Yarmolenko. More than half of the Ukraine squad had not played competitive football since Russia’s invasion of the country and deserved to be credited for their deep run in the qualifiers.
Speaking after the game, Manchester City player Oleksandr Zinchenko said that they left everything on the pitch, but could not get the results on the day. The team was greeted by a rousing 2000-strong supporters at the Cardiff stadium who made it a night to remember, creating an inspirational atmosphere.
“We did everything we could. I want to say sorry that we didn’t score but this is sport,” said Oleksandr Petrakov, the coach of the national team.
“I do not have any criticism of any player in the team,” he further added.
Ukraine were the more dominant side on the day, taking 22 shots at the Wales goal, however keeper Wayne Hennessey stood strong inside the box, making three crucial saves to keep his country alive.
“He was magnificent, world class,” said coach Rob Page after the keeper’s heroic performance.
“I pulled Wardy (for a chat) and showed him that respect that I was starting Wayne, it was purely because he played in the semi-final and didn’t let us down so it would have been harsh to drop him. I thought he went to another level tonight,” he added.
Wales did a victory lap around the stadium after the win and were ecstatic with the result. Captain Gareth Bale whose retirement rumours have been ripe in Europe joked that he would be delaying it for a little bit.
“It’s the greatest result in the history of Welsh football. We’re all ecstatic,” said Bale after the game.
“It’s what dreams are made of and what we’ve been working for since we started. It’s for all of our amazing fans I can’t describe the feeling,” he further added.
Wales have been drawn into the Group B of the FIFA World Cup and will be accompanying England, Iran and USA.