Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Wales Completes World Cup Draw

Gareth Bale’s free kick led to the match’s only goal and goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey kept Ukraine at bay to give Wales a 1-0 victory Sunday and secure the final spot in this year’s World Cup in Qatar. Bale’s kick deflected off the head of West Ham’s Andrij Yarmolenko for a Ukrainian own goal in the 34th minute. The rest of the match was in Hennessey’s hands with the former Crystal Palace keeper helped by a dogged Wales back line which included Tottenham Hotspur’s Ben Davies. Once the front-line keeper for Palace, Hennessey was a backup for now relegated Burnley this past year and has made only nine Premier League appearances in the last three years. The 35-year-old was at his best versus Ukraine, however, as his nine saves were the most of his international career. His clean sheet helped lift Wales to its first World Cup qualification in 64 years.

The loss ended an emotional journey for Ukraine who inspired supporters from their war-torn country. Manchester City defender Oleksandr Zinchenko again played a forward midfield position for the Ukrainians against Wales after effectively playing that role in Ukraine’s 3-1 win last Wednesday over Scotland. Qualification means Wales will join England, the United States and Iran in Group B when the World Cup begins in November. Gareth Bale has a decision to make regarding his club future. He is out of contract with Real Madrid after this month and was rumored to be considering retirement. With a World Cup in November, Wales’s main man must now weigh the benefit of keeping his competitive edge versus potentially incurring one of his all too frequent injuries. Another return to Spurs will, of course, be one speculated destination. 

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