Wales’ hopes of qualifying automatically for the 2022 World Cup look to be all but over after they were held to a deeply frustrating goalless draw at home to group minnows Estonia.
Despite an initially celebratory atmosphere at Cardiff City Stadium as it hosted an international match without crowd restrictions for the first time since 2019, Wales failed miserably to live up to the occasion.
It was Estonia, winless in Group E and ranked 110th in the world, who came closest to scoring in the first half as Mattias Kait hit the crossbar.
Wales had several chances to score after the break, but Gareth Bale and Tyler Roberts were both denied by excellent saves from Estonia’s teenage Arsenal goalkeeper Karl Hein, while Bale also hit the post.
Wales are now nine points adrift of group leaders Belgium. Although Robert Page’s side have played two games fewer, they now have to win all their remaining matches – November’s home game against Belgium included – and hope the world’s highest-ranked side drop points before then as well.
With that in mind, the play-offs now look like Wales’ most realistic route to a first World Cup since 1958.
They are already effectively guaranteed a play-off place thanks to their success in the Nations League, but finishing second in this World Cup qualifying group could secure Wales a more favourable draw in that knockout stage.
The draw with Estonia keeps Wales third in Group E, behind the Czech Republic in second on goal difference and having played one game fewer.
More to follow.
- 16MorrellBooked at 73mins
- 8WilsonSubstituted forWilliamsat 37′minutes
- 9RobertsSubstituted forM Harrisat 63′minutes
- 18M Harris
- 7PuriBooked at 24minsSubstituted forLilanderat 30′minutes
- 16PaskotsiSubstituted forLukkaat 86′minutes
- 5KreidaBooked at 79minsSubstituted forPoomat 86′minutes
- 8AnierSubstituted forSinyavskiyat 71′minutes
- 15SappinenSubstituted forSorgaat 71′minutes
- Ruddy Buquet
Match ends, Wales 0, Estonia 0.
Second Half ends, Wales 0, Estonia 0.
Attempt saved. Vlasiy Sinyavskiy (Estonia) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Markus Poom.
Corner, Wales. Conceded by Karol Mets.
Corner, Estonia. Conceded by Danny Ward.
Attempt saved. Konstantin Vassiljev (Estonia) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.
Offside, Wales. Chris Gunter tries a through ball, but Mark Harris is caught offside.
Corner, Wales. Conceded by Märten Kuusk.
Attempt missed. Gareth Bale (Wales) left footed shot from outside the box is too high from a direct free kick.
Substitution, Estonia. Markus Poom replaces Vladislav Kreida.
Substitution, Estonia. Marco Lukka replaces Maksim Paskotsi.
Daniel James (Wales) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Vladislav Kreida (Estonia).
Attempt blocked. Jonathan Williams (Wales) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Gareth Bale.
Attempt saved. Joe Allen (Wales) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Gareth Bale.
Gareth Bale (Wales) hits the right post with a header from the right side of the six yard box.
Attempt saved. Gareth Bale (Wales) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Joe Morrell with a headed pass.
Attempt saved. Gareth Bale (Wales) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Ben Davies with a cross.
Vladislav Kreida (Estonia) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Daniel James (Wales) wins a free kick in the attacking half.