CARDIFF, United Kingdom.- The dream would have been so beautiful that the end is cruel for Ukraine, beaten (1-0) by an own goal against Wales, Sunday in the final of the European qualifiers for the World Cup- 2022.
Wales, after the rival anthem was respected and applauded like never before, did not lose sight of the sporting aspect of the event and remained serene in the match, contrary to what the Scotland, beaten four days ago in Glasgow (3-1).
In typically British weather, Oleksandr Petrakov’s men put in a great performance on the pitch which, had it ended in victory, no one would have been surprised.
In a first half where they had great chances, certain refereeing decisions, such as a goal disallowed by Oleksandr Zinchenko on a direct free kick taken too early (3) or a penalty not awarded to Andryi Yarmolenko (40), weighed on the Ukrainian. side.
But if they have something to regret, it is the missed chances against Wayne Hennessey, goalkeeper who became a ‘Red Dragons’ hero after stopping clear chances for the Ukrainians.
From an error by the Welsh defense, Artem Yaremchuck took a face to face against the goalkeeper, blocked in two stages (12). Hennessey also deflected a powerful shot from Zinchenko (40), before reflexively stepping out a foot to deflect a close shot from Viktor Tsygankov, before Yaremchuk, well placed for the clearance, managed to convert the chance (55).
The Hennesey Miracle
A few minutes later, it was Tottenham defender Ben Davies who pulled off a miraculous save in front of Yarmolenko (59). Even in the last minutes, Hennessey managed to stop a powerful header from Artem Dovbyk (84th) on the line that the whole stadium thought was going.
The Welsh winner came after a deflection into his own goal by Yarmolenko, who wanted to clear a powerful free-kick from Gareth Bale (34) with a header but stunned his own keeper, Georgi Buschchan, who couldn’t do anything to avoid as much.
Despite the flurry of Ukrainian chances, the Welsh also had chances in the second half to close the game. Aaron Ramsey, alone in front of goal, spread his foot too far and failed to send the shot between the three posts (48th).
The post deflected a volley from Brennan Johnson (75), seconds before Bale, at the far post, fired a shot at goal where Buschchan’s (76) gloves were waiting.
After the final whistle, Welsh euphoria was unleashed, as they celebrated the ‘Red Dragons’ second World Cup finish, something only achieved in Sweden in 1958 , 64 years ago.
In contrast, the tears of the Ukrainian players thanking their supporters in the stands for their presence, thus ending the dream of obtaining a ticket for the World Cup despite the difficult situation that their country is going through.
In Qatar, the Welsh will be in Group B, alongside England, USA and Iran, in what will likely be their two legends Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey’s final venture into the most important competition. international. RB