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Wales have reached the World Cup finals for the first time in 64 years after edging past Ukraine in Cardiff. Andriy Yarmolenko headed Gareth Bale’s free-kick past his own goalkeeper in the 34th minute in the game’s crucial moment. Defeat ends the emotional journey for Ukraine one step before reaching Qatar.

Wales have reached the World Cup finals for the first time in 64 years after edging past Ukraine in Cardiff.

The only goal of the game came 11 minutes before the break when Gareth Bale drove a free kick at goal which Georgiy Bushchan seemed to have covered only for Andriy Yarmolenko, attempting to clear with a header falling backwards, to divert the ball into the net.

Ukraine had a claim for a penalty in the 39th minute when, shortly after Wayne Hennessey had scrambled across his line to deny a shot from Oleksandr Zinchinko, Yarmolenko got to the ball before Joe Allen cleared the ball and was struck by the Welsh player’s swinging boot. After a VAR check the non-decision stood.

Ukraine had more of the ball in the second half but they were denied by the superb defending of Ben Davies and saves of Hennessey, with a particularly notable stop from Artem Dovbyk coming in the closing stages.

Wales could have stretched the lead in the second half when substitute Brennan Johnson slammed a shot against the post with almost his first touch, with Aaron Ramsey also side-footing wide from in front of goal and Bushchan denying Bale from point-blank range.

The Millennium Stadium crowd erupted into delirium when the referee blew the final whistle earning Gareth Bale, Rob Page and the Welsh team a well-earned place in their national sporting folklore.

Wales will play in Group B in Qatar alongside England, Iran and the United States.


Have to feel for Ukraine – As much as these matches should be about the winning side, it would take a stone heart not to reflect on the effort of Ukraine to get to this point and feel enormous sympathy for their skipper Andriy Yarmolenko who’s error ultimately ensured his side will not play on the world stage in Qatar. The duty these players must have felt looking at a Ukraine flag signed by representatives from the front line in their dressing room before the game can rarely have been matched in the history of the sport.

But after the shared jubilation after the fantastic victory at Hampden Park on Wednesday, here team members were in tears applauding their vocal support in the Millennium Stadium. The players have given their country welcome distraction in the darkest of times and can be proud of their efforts.

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