Wales end 64-year World Cup wait with victory over Ukraine

 

Fans and players in Wales are ecstatic after their country qualified for the World Cup for the first time in 64 years. Wales have completed qualification to the 2022 World Cup after defeating Ukraine 1-0 in the UEFA playoff final on June 5.

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Gareth Bale’s deflected free-kick was enough to give Wales a 1-0 win over Ukraine in Cardiff, sending Welsh fans into raptures. As the reality of making it to the Qatar finals later this year set in, fans leaving Cardiff City Stadium sung and cheered joyfully in the rain.

In the first half, Wales goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey was busy, making three crucial stops to keep the score level.

From a fast free-kick, Oleksandr Zinchenko had the ball in the net, but Spanish referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz had not blown his whistle, and the effort was ruled out.

It was against the run of play then when Wales grabbed the lead in the 34th minute, Bale fired a low free-kick from 25 metres out and Yarmolenko’s stooping, attempted header clear, flew into the net past the helpless Georgiy Bushchan.

It was a cruel way for Ukraine’s qualification campaign to end, with Olexandr Petrakov’s side, which beat Scotland in the playoff semi-final, once again displaying a level of football that would have assured them a place in the 32-team tournament in November.

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With half of the team having not played competitive club football since the Russian invasion in February and their country’s tragedy never far from their minds, Ukraine deserves a lot of credit for coming so close to making the finals for the second time in its history as an independent country.

Wales weren’t eligible for the first three World Cups as they were not a FIFA member, first eligible in 1950. Since the 1958 tournament, Wales had failed to reach 15 straight World Cups before securing qualification in 2022.

 

 

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