Wales will play in their first World Cup (Outright – England 11/2, Wales 150/1) since 1958 after Gareth Bale’s deflected free-kick sealed a 1-0 win against Ukraine, with England awaiting them in the group stages.
In a tense, tight affair in Cardiff in which Ukraine were arguably the better of the two teams, it was Bale’s free-kick which went in off luckless skipper Andriy Yarmolenko which proved decisive.
The visitors were full of spirit as expected and unleashed plenty of efforts at goal, but all to no avail.
The closest they came was later on in the second half when substitute Artem Dovbyk’s header was brilliantly clawed away by Wayne Hennessey, with the Burnley keeper having a timely outstanding game.
Now, Welsh fans can look forward to another summer of tournament football, with the Dragons having qualified for the last two European Championships.
Bale hailed it as the best result in Welsh football history on an evening of jubilation at the Cardiff City Stadium.
“It’s the greatest result in history for Welsh football,” Bale told reporters. “It means everything. It’s what dreams are made of. I’m speechless because I’m so happy.
“Words can’t describe how we feel at the moment.”
It now means another international tournament clash with England is on the cards after the two sides previously met in Euro 2016.
Bale was Wales’ star man that day, netting a stunning free-kick from long-range, but England came back to secure victory thanks to a goal from Jamie Vardy and a last-minute winner from Daniel Sturridge – a rare highlight in what was an otherwise dreadful tournament for the Three Lions.
Each of the last six meetings, dating back to 2004, have seen England win, with a 3-0 friendly triumph in October 2020 the last meeting.
You have to travel back to 1984 for the last time Wales beat England, though it is fair to say, they are a different proposition these days.
The United States and Iran will also be in Group B as England take on Wales on November 29th – the third match of the group stage and one which could potentially define who wins or even goes through.
Wales begin their campaign against the USA (Match betting – USA 13/10, draw 12/5, Wales 11/5) on November 21st.