Wales beat Ukraine 1-0 to qualify for their first World Cup since 1958 from an unfortunate own goal from Andriy Yarmolenko.
Played in an emotional atmosphere in Cardiff, Yarmolenko’s header past his own goalkeeper from a Gareth Bale free-kick in the 34th minute proved the decisive moment.
Wales, usually so reliant on Bale and Aaron Ramsey, had their goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey to thank. He wrote himself into Welsh football folklore with a performance of incredible defiance up against a Ukraine side that gave everything. The pick of his nine saves came late when clawing away an Artem Dovbyk header heading for the top corner.
Such was his brilliance, Ukraine’s nine shots on target were the most by a team without scoring during a game in the 2022 European World Cup qualifying campaign.
It was a cruel way for Ukraine’s qualification effort to end with Olexandr Petrakov’s side, who beat Scotland in the playoff semi-final, again showing a level of football that would have certainly merited a place in November’s 32-team tournament.
Wales had their chances to wrap up the game too as Brennan Johnson rattled Georgiy Bushchan denied a post and Bale, but this was a performance all about their relentless rearguard which has now kept 12 clean sheets in their last 19 home internationals.
Robert Page’s men can now can start planning for Qatar where they have earned a place in Group B with England, USA and Iran.