CARDIFF | The dream will have been as crazy as the end is cruel for Ukraine, beaten (1-0) on a goal against his camp by Wales, Sunday, in the final of the dam for the 2022 World Cup.
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Carried by a whole people, but also by the immense outpouring of international sympathy for a country which has suffered for more than three months from the destruction and deaths caused by the Russian invasion, the blue and yellow will not see Qatar.
Unlike Wales which, once past the opposing anthem respected and applauded as ever, did not lose sight of the sporting issue and its objective of winning its place in the World Cup for the first time since 1958.
And he did not foil unlike Scotland, beaten (3-1) four days ago at home by Ukraine, in the semi-final of the play-off.
“There were a lot of emotions in this match, but we coped brilliantly. Every challenge they threw at us, we managed to meet it, ”welcomed defender Ben Davies after the match, at the microphone of Sky Sports.
In typical British weather, Oleksandr Petrakov’s men nevertheless delivered a performance that proved that they would have had their place in the World Cup.
Galvanized by a flag signed by soldiers from the front hanging on the wall of their locker room, they put all the ingredients to win this match: desire, combat, technique, tactics. All but one: realism. “I think we did everything we could but (…) we are sorry not to have scored (…), that was the biggest obstacle”, admitted Petrakov in a press conference .
A few refereeing decisions, such as the goal disallowed for Oleksandr Zinchenko on a free kick taken too quickly (3e) or a penalty denied to Andryi Yarmolenko (40e), weighed heavily.
But the Ukrainians will especially regret the missed opportunities against Wayne Hennessey, the last Welsh rampart who will undeniably have been the hero of his team, despite interventions that were not always very academic.
“We gave everything on the pitch and the Wales goalkeeper did an incredible job. He is definitely the man of the match with his incredible saves,” admitted Zinchenko.
On a Welsh misalignment, Roman Yaremchuk presented himself against the goalkeeper, but his shot was blocked in two stages (12e).
Hennessey also hardly repelled a shot from Zinchenko (40e) before having an incredible foot reflex to repel a deflection from Viktor Tsygankov six meters, Yaremchuk, well placed to resume, failing to put it to the bottom (55e).
A few minutes later, it was Tottenham defender Ben Davies who made a heroic save in front of Yarmolenko (59e).
And what about the miraculous save on his Hennessey line on a powerful header from Artem Dovbyk that the whole stadium saw in the background (84e)!
The fact that the goal conceded was on a deflection of the head of Yarmolenko who took Georgi Buschchan on the wrong foot, following a free kick from Gareth Bale (1-0, 34e), will only make defeat even more bitter.
But in a very open and lively second half, the Welsh could also have killed the suspense much earlier.
Aaron Ramsey, alone seven meters from goal, opened his foot too wide and missed the target (48e).
Dan James saw his recovery in the surface countered in extremis (62e), the post repelled a volley from Brennan Johnson (75e), then Bale, ideally served at the far post, found the gloves of Buschchan (76e).
At the final whistle, the tears of the Ukrainian players, who paid tribute to their supporters present in the stands of the Cardiff City Stadium, obviously contrasted with the joy of the Welsh, who put an end to 64 years of waiting, those who had in their memory only one participation in the World Cup, in 1958 in Sweden.
“This is the greatest result in the history of Welsh football”, enthused at the microphone of Sky Sports Gareth Bale, who has two Euros to his credit with the Reds (semi-final in 2016, round of 16 l ‘last summer). “Words cannot describe how we feel right now,” he added.
In Qatar, they will join a very English-speaking group B with their English neighbor, the United States and Iran to offer their historical leaders, Bale and Ramsey, a last adventure in the most beautiful of international competitions.
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