Gareth Bale’s deflected free kick was the difference in a close match on Sunday at the Cardiff City Stadium
Wales defeated Ukraine 1-0 on Sunday in a play-off to reach their first World Cup since 1958, and a joyous Gareth Bale said afterwards that he would likely put any possible retirement plans on hold because of the result.
Bale’s first-half free kick that deflected off Andriy Yarmolenko for an own goal proved to be the difference in the match.
It was heartbreak for the Ukrainians, who have played at a time their country is under Russian military invasion.
What happened in the match?
There were scenes of euphoria at the Cardiff City Stadium after Wales secured their berth in the upcoming 2022 World Cup. This will be just their second appearance in the marquee global event after 1958.
It was against the run of play that Wales took the lead after the half-hour mark. A mistimed challenge from Vitaliy Mykolenko brought down Daniel James in a dangerous area a few yards outside the penalty box. Bale tried his luck with a free kick and Yarmolenko attempted to clear the ball only to see it deflected it into the net.
The last time Wales played at the World Cup, they were knocked out by a goal from a 17-year-old Pele ⏪ pic.twitter.com/4VDpv0m15d— GOAL (@goal) June 5, 2022
Ukraine had a 40th-minute penalty shout waved away before Wales took control in the second half, with Aaron Ramsey and Bale just missing chances to extend the advantage.
Wales goalkeeper Wayne Hennessy made several late saves to prevent an equaliser.
The nation will now head to Qatar in Group B with the United States, England and Iran.
How did Wales react to the result?
“The result is the greatest in Welsh football history,” Bale told Sky Sports. “We’re going to a World Cup!
“It means everything, what dreams are made of, we’ve been working towards it since I first came in here.
“Words can’t describe how we feel at the moment.”
On whether possible retirement plans would be put on hold, he added: “Maybe for a little bit!”
Wales beat Ukraine to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1958 🏴 pic.twitter.com/0P4ad83SJy— GOAL (@goal) June 5, 2022
“There was a lot of emotion in this game, but we stood up brilliantly,” defender Ben Davies said to Sky Sports.
“Every challenge they threw at us we dealt with.
It’s incredible, a dream come true, as a squad we’ve worked so hard for this.
We may not have the most talented group but we give it everything we have got.”
Wales manager Rob Page told Sky Sports:
“I’m so proud of the guys, they thoroughly deserved it.
“The one thing these boys were missing was a World Cup and now we’ve got there.
These are the best supporters in world football, they helped us from the first minute.
When you see what these guys do in training, I had full trust in them.”