Wales 1-0 Ukraine: Dragons seal last World Cup spot
Sunday, June 5, 2022
Wales are through to the 2022 FIFA World Cup after Andriy Yarmolenko's own goal from a Gareth Bale free-kick ended Ukraine's hopes.
Article top media content
Wales have reached the FIFA World Cup for the first time since 1958 after Ukraine's Andriy Yarmolenko headed an own goal in their play-off final.
12' Hennessey stops Yaremchuk shot
30' Zinchenko sees drive parried by Hennessey
34' Yarmolenko heads in Bale free-kick
49' Ramsey shoots wide from inside penalty area
55' Wales No1 thwarts Tsygankov
76' Bushchan denies Bale from close range
84' Hennessey palms Dovbyk header away
Match in brief: Spirited Wales end 64-year exile
Olexandr Petrakov's visitors had overpowered Scotland to win their semi-final on Wednesday, and their attacking vibrancy quietened an expectant home crowd during the early stages, with Wales goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey producing a string of alert saves in slippery conditions.
The best of the opportunities Ukraine fashioned came when Roman Yaremchuk broke free inside the penalty area in the 12th minute, arrowing in a low shot that Hennessey recovered just in time to stop Andriy Yarmolenko capitalising on the rebound.
Hennessey kept out Oleksandr Zinchenko's fierce drive as Ukraine had four of the five first-half shots on target, and Wales coach Rob Page was clearly discussing tactical tweaks with his staff to stem the tide. The opening goal, though, was a stroke of luck rather than planning, Yarmolenko heading Gareth Bale's whipped free-kick from a dangerous position beyond Georgiy Bushchan.
Aaron Ramsey and Viktor Tsygankov exchanged chances early in the second half, the Wales stalwart shooting wide when well placed before Hennessey performed more heroics to keep out the midfielder's close-range finish with an outstretched leg.
Petrakov had his head in his hands on the sidelines, frustrated by a goalkeeper in inspired form. Bale went close with a shot inside the penalty area, then watched from the bench after being replaced as Hennessey sprung into action to palm away a powerful header from the unmarked Artem Dovbyk with five minutes remaining. Wales survived, reaching their first World Cup finals since they beat Israel in the play-offs in 1958.
Mark Pitman, match reporter
Goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey had the game of his life when it mattered the most and Welsh football may never be quite the same again. Wales are heading to the World Cup for the first time in 64 years. Page and his squad have finally exorcised the ghosts of the last Wales team to compete on the world stage.
There have been some incredible atmospheres in Cardiff before, but nothing that compares to what we have witnessed this evening. Ukraine had the better chances, but Wales took their chance, and they now head to Qatar.
Rob Page, Wales coach: "There was a lot of emotion in this game. It was frantic at times, but we dealt with everything today. To a man, we were brilliant. The supporters are incredible. They helped us from the first to the 96th minute."
Gareth Bale, Wales captain: "It's the greatest result in the history of Welsh football. We're all ecstatic. 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."
Wayne Hennessey, Wales goalkeeper: "It's absolutely incredible – but then again, everybody who's been on the pitch tonight and the staff, everyone has been amazing throughout this campaign. That's my best game in a Welsh shirt, at such a crucial stage. You have to give credit to Ukraine. Gareth Bale is so dangerous at free-kicks. He's an amazing talent and it's a joy to watch."
Kieffer Moore, Wales forward: "It's hard to put into words. I'm so unbelievably proud of everyone. It's been some mission to get here and thankfully we got over the line. We're going to the World Cup. It means everything: this is years and years of hard work."
Oleksandr Zinchenko, Ukraine defender: "Football is emotions. If we can give some great emotions and feelings for our fans, it's great for us and it's job done. Every one of us gave everything we had and left everything on the pitch. Wales did a great job and [Hennessey] was man of the match – he made some incredible saves. We didn't deserve to lose today, it was so tight. I wish Wales all the best for the World Cup."
Olexandr Petrakov, Ukraine coach: "I want to express my gratitude to Wales. I want to wish your team all the best at the World Cup."
- Wales' 64-year wait to reach a World Cup tournament is the longest any nation has had to wait between finals appearances.
- Page's side have lost only one of their last ten international matches, winning five times.
- They are the only nation to beat Ukraine during the 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign.
- The Dragons won this fixture for the first time in their history at the fourth time of asking, having drawn against these opponents twice.
- The visitors had been on a nine-game unbeaten run since the start of the group stage, earning two of their six draws against World Cup holders France.
- England (nine) are the only team to have produced more goals from set pieces than the seven Wales scored in qualifying.
World Cup fixtures
21 November: vs United States
25 November: vs Iran
29 November: vs England
Wales: Hennessey; C. Roberts, B. Davies, Rodon, N. Williams (Norrington-Davies 90+3); Ampadu, Ramsey, Allen, James (Johnson 71); Moore, Bale (Wilson 83)
Ukraine: Bushchan; Karavaev, Zabarnyi, Matviyenko, Mykolenko; Stepanenko (Sydorchuk 70); Yarmolenko, Malinovskyi (Shaparenko 70), Zinchenko, Tsygankov (Mudryk 77); Yaremchuk (Dovbyk 77)