Wales held Belgium to an exhilarating 1-1 draw to ensure second place in World Cup Qualifying Group E and a seeding within the draw for the Qatar 2022 play-offs.
Kieffer Moore’s eighth worldwide purpose and a stout defensive show towards the world’s No.1 ranked footballing nation acquired a spirited Wales over the road after Kevin de Bruyne’s opener on an evening of excessive drama and emotion on the Cardiff Metropolis Stadium.
Regardless of having already assured themselves of a spot within the play-offs subsequent March courtesy of their Nations League outcomes, ending second within the group means Wales keep away from drawing European champions Italy and former holders Portugal within the extra beneficial facet of the semi-final draw.
Wales, who’re two video games away from qualifying for the World Cup finals for the primary time since 1958, might have ended Belgium’s 27-game unbeaten in World Cup Qualifiers late on however a marvel save from Koen Casteels prevented Neco Williams scoring a surprising winner.
The draw was a becoming finale to an encouraging 2021 for Rob Web page and Wales, who await their World Cup play-off destiny within the draw on November 26.
Wales: Ward (6), N. Williams (8), B. Davies (6), Mepham (6), Rodon (7), Morrell (6), Ramsey (6), Allen (7), C. Roberts (6), James (7), Moore (8).
Subs: Johnson (n/a).
Belgium: Casteels (7), Castagne (6), Boyata (6), Theate (6), Meunier (6), Witsel (6), De Bruyne (7), T. Hazard (6), Vanaken (5), Origi (5), De Ketelaere (6).
Subs: Vertonghen (n/a), Trossard (n/a), Vanzier (5), Dendoncker (5), Saelemaekers (6).
Man of the Match: Neco Williams.
Wales dangle on to priceless play-off seeding
The equation was easy for Wales within the tenth and ultimate World Cup Qualifier: win the sport, and no matter else occurred elsewhere could be irrelevant in stopping them from securing a seeding within the play-offs, however with barely 12 minutes on the clock, Belgium’s class advised.
After a subdued begin, Belgium ratcheted up the standard and took the lead in trademark De Bruyne trend because the Manchester Metropolis midfielder ruthlessly transformed a first-time rebound after Axel Witsel’s blocked shot fell for him on the sting of the world.
- Chris Mepham, Joe Morrell and Kieffer Moore returned as Wales made three modifications from the 5-1 victory over Belarus. Gareth Bale was lacking injured.
- Koen Casteels, Dedryck Boyata, Arthur Theate, Divock Origi and Charles De Ketelaere began as Belgium made 5 modifications from the 3-1 victory over Estonia.
Wales ensured they didn’t maintain additional injury within the quick aftermath earlier than mounting their response, which culminated with 32 minutes on the clock.
Daniel James’ second try at a cross from the left lastly discovered its manner into the Belgium space the place it evaded two woeful tried clearances earlier than falling for Moore, who managed beautifully earlier than rifling the equaliser into the online.
Technically superior to their rivals, Roberto Martinez’s facet managed the rest of the primary half however had been unable to reinstate their lead as Dedryck Boyata’s header curled inches broad earlier than Thorgan Hazard’s gorgeous volley direct from a De Bruyne nook cannoned off the body of the Wales purpose.
The enthralling, end-to-end contest of the primary half subsided within the second, with Wales keeping track of retaining what they already had, however they need to have taken the lead for the primary time inside 5 minutes of the restart however Connor Roberts shanked broad.
Williams thought he gained it for Wales when he lower inside and unleashed a surprising effort in direction of the far nook, just for Casteels to supply an equally spectacular save.
Information filtered by of the Czech Republic scoring the 2 objectives they wanted towards Estonia to capitalise on any potential Wales slip-up however, regardless of a late Belgium onslaught, the hosts stood agency to complete off the job and safe their place within the play-offs.
The play-offs are a 12-team mini-tournament from which the ultimate three European locations shall be awarded. They may characteristic the ten qualifying group runners-up and two groups based mostly on Nations League rankings.
The 12 groups shall be seeded and cut up into three pots of 4, every of which is able to stage their very own (one-legged) semi-finals and a ultimate on March 24 and 29 respectively. The winners of the three finals will advance to Qatar.
The draw for these matches will happen on November 26. Scotland already know they are going to be seeded, that means a house semi-final. Italy, Poland, Portugal and Sweden are among the many different groups heading to the play-offs.
- Wales have completed within the top-two of a World Cup qualifying group for the primary time since qualification for the 1966 World Cup after they completed second (solely the first-place groups certified that 12 months).
- Belgium are unbeaten of their final 28 World Cup qualifiers (W23 D5), the second-longest present unbeaten run behind England (31), with that run starting with a 2-0 away win in Wales again in September 2012.
- Wales are unbeaten of their final 16 dwelling video games in all competitions (W11 D5), since shedding 2-1 to Denmark within the UEFA Nations League in November 2018.
- Kevin De Bruyne has been immediately concerned in 24 objectives in his final 19 appearances in all competitions for Belgium (8 objectives, 16 assists).
- 11 of Kevin De Bruyne’s final 15 objectives for Belgium in all competitions have come from outdoors the field.
- Since his worldwide debut in September 2019, Kieffer Moore has scored extra objectives in all competitions than another Wales participant (8).
What the supervisor mentioned…
Wales supervisor Rob Web page: “I am so proud. I used to be emotional on the finish within the circle, I could not be prouder of that group of males. To offer that efficiency after Saturday’s efficiency… We went out for the win tonight; we weren’t blissful sitting and holding onto some extent. Credit score has acquired to acquired go to these gamers; they had been excellent. With the gang prefer it was tonight and on Saturday, we fancy our possibilities towards anyone [in the play-offs].”
Wales eagerly await the World Cup play-off draw on November 26, 2021, the place they are going to be taught their destiny and who stands between them and a spot at Qatar 2022.