Wales puts an end to Ukraine’s World Cup dream | Football

The match was full of emotions. For the players from Ukraine, the game was of course dominated by the war. They wanted to do everything they could to make their compatriots forget the misery for a while and to make them proud. “It will be a competition for survival. We play for our country,” Oleksandr Zinchenko said beforehand.

The Ukrainian soldiers encouraged the football players by handing a flag with handwritten messages to the president who traveled to Cardiff.

impetuous start

It was clear that a lot was at stake Sunday night. Within two minutes, Joe Allen was shown a yellow card for a serious foul. Countryman Daniel James disagreed and made that clear. He had to pay for this with a yellow card.

Ukraine then thought it could take the free kick quickly. Former PSV player Zinchenko saw that goalie Wayne Hennessey was not ready yet and suddenly shot the free kick into the goal. The referee soon made it clear that the goal was a line. After all, he had not yet given permission to take the free kick. The visitors then became more and more menacing and had the best chances.

Wales celebrate the goal.

Wales celebrate the goal.

Own goal

Yet it was Wales that took the lead before half-time through a very unfortunate own goal by Andriy Yarmolenko. The Ukraine captain headed a free kick from Gareth Bale into his own goal: 1-0. The visitors claimed a penalty not much later, after Allen tapped Yarmolenko in the penalty area. The VAR looked at the moment, but didn’t think it was worth a knock.

Wales started the second half stronger, but the biggest chance just after the break was for the visitors. Viktor Tsyhankov was very close to the equalizer, but the goal didn’t seem to want to fall for Ukraine on Sunday night.

The game went back and forth after that. Both teams had a number of huge opportunities and the tension increased by the minute. But there were no more goals and so Wales is going to the World Cup again after 64 years. For Ukraine, the disappointment is huge.

Ukraine's players lie dejected on the field.

Ukraine’s players lie dejected on the field.

‘Nervous of course’

Wales national coach Robert Page almost tripped over his words after the game. “People asked me beforehand if I was nervous. More excited actually. I see what they do in training. Of course I was nervous but I trust these guys. There was a lot of emotion in this match. It was extreme at times, but we handled everything well. Everyone, brilliant,” he told Sky Sport.

Page also praised the contribution of the home crowd. “The fans were incredible. They helped us from the first to the 96th minute.”

Captain Gareth Bale, who took the free kick from which Ukrainian midfielder Jarmolenko unintentionally scored, spoke of the greatest success in the history of Welsh football. “We are in ecstasy. I can barely describe the feeling. This is what dreams are made of.”

‘Character shown, proud of our performance’

Despite the defeat to Wales and missing the World Cup in Qatar, Zinchenko also found cause for some optimism. “We have shown our true character. I am so proud of our performance. Football can be so painful sometimes,” the Ukrainian midfielder told TV channel BeIn Sports. “The player of the match was the Wales goalkeeper. That means we were really good, created a lot of chances, but unfortunately we didn’t score.”