Wales sealed the last available qualification spot for the Qatar 2022 World Cup by beating Ukraine 1-0 in their final playoff match in Cardiff on Sunday.
Former Real Madrid player Gareth Bale was once again the hero of the hour for his country, with his headed free kick from Andriy Yarmolenko into an own goal in the 34th minute.
Yarmolenko was also denied a penalty shout at one point in the proceedings and had a chance late on which he hit high over the bar.
Many felt Ukraine were the better team in the 90 minutes as they squandered other opportunities, but Welsh goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey helped his country hold on to secure a maiden World Cup appearance in 64 years.
Back then, in Sweden in 1958, a 17-year-old Pelé led Brazil to their first record five titles after the Selecao suffered a heartbreaking final loss to Uruguay at the Maracana eight years earlier.
With their tickets to Qatar in November now booked, however, Wales will be in Group B and play against Iran, USA and British rivals England, who they also faced at the Euro 2016 en route to an impressive run to the semi-finals. .
“Incredible. I’m so proud of these boys. The only thing these boys were missing was a World Cup and they got it.” beamed manager Rob Page after the game.
“They are the best supporters in world football. They sang from the first minute to the 96th minute”, he added.
Sunday’s game took place much later than expected due to delays caused by the Russian military operation in Ukraine.
While Wales beat Austria at the end of March to secure passage to the final, Scotland and Ukraine only played their semi-final at Hampden Park last Wednesday, with the visitors winning 3 -1.
Sanctions imposed by FIFA and UEFA while acting on a recommendation from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) meant that Russia’s semi-final opponents Poland were exempt from the final where they beat Sweden 2 -0 in Warsaw on March 29.
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