Wales 1-0 Ukraine: Player ratings & man of the match as Gareth Bale ends World Cup wait
A 64-year wait was brought to an end as captain fantastic Bale inspired the Red Dragons to the 2022 World Cup
Wales will join fellow home nation England in Qatar after beating Ukraine 1-0 to qualify for the 2022 World Cup at the Cardiff City Stadium.
Andriy Yarmolenko turned the ball into his own net after diving to try and stop a free-kick from world football’s hottest free agent Gareth Bale.
It ends a 64-year-wait for the country that has only played once at international football’s showpiece event, back in 1958.
They will play against Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions, as well as Christian Pulisic’s United States and Iran in November.
Tale of the match
No leniency was shown from refere Antonio Lahoz who booked Joe Allen for a foul and Daniel James for swearing in the first three minutes.
It was Ukraine that started on the front foot. From distance, the visitors were causing problems as Viktor Tysgankov with a low-driven shot forced Hennessey to save for a corner and then from a shortly-taken free-kick, his cross made Hennessey claw away his second attempt in what was a troubling ball on a wet surface.
Timing his run well, Roman Yaremchuk managed to beat the offside trap and break in from a narrow angle but again the Wales goalkeeper was alert to it but had to claim it a second time to avoid a follow-up.
Ukraine were better adapted to the slippery conditions and continued to put pressure on a nervous Wales back line with Andriy Yarmolenko going close. Hennessey bailed his teammates out once more, piping Tysgankov to the ball in a dangerous position.
Against the run of play, Wales took the lead with their talisman Gareth Bale breaking the deadlock. On a less-than-favourable position his free-kick was headed into the net by his opposite captain Yarmolenko.
A VAR check then left Wales fans panicking with Allen kicking the surface with pressure behind him. From the same attack, Yarmolenko drove a low shot at Hennessey that again caused some issues.
Kieffer Moore teed the ball kindly to Aaron Ramsey but the Juventus midfielder spurned the opportunity, curling his shot wide past the post.
At the other end, Hennessey continued to pull off more heroics, saving Tysgankov’s sliding effort from six-yards out before Yaremchuk touched the rebound wide. Malinovskyi then went near as he turned and shot with his effort bobbling past the post.
Two chances presented themselves to Wales to double their lead. Firstly Brennan Johnson hit the post with a half-volley before Bale struck a well-timed shot at Buschan to save.
Making the eight million pound decision to substitute Bale off, there was egg thrown on their face as Artem Dovbyk headed at goal but Hennessey once more came up with the goods.
Wayne Hennessey - The man-of-the-match without a shadow of a doubt. Made some world class saves to keep the score level and then preserve his side’s lead.
Neco Williams: From start to finish, Williams did not stop, bursting up and down the flanks whilst also putting his body in the way to block shots.
Ben Davies: Whenever Ukraine looked like troubling, Ben Davies was there to sweep up the danger. Making a telling block.
Andriy Yarmolenko: With no one around him, Yarmolenko didn’t need to head the ball but his connection flat footed Georgiy Buschan. Made the best efforts to atone for his error but denied by Wayne Hennessey.
Antonio Mateu Lahoz: There was some inconsistency in the refereeing from the Spanish official. Two yellow cards in the opening few minutes whilst allowing some rough and tumble barging saw the Welsh players question a few decisions. Booked Rob Page for minimal protestations too.