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Wales v Poland Live Commentary, 25/09/2022

FT
0 - 1
WAL
POL
K. Świderski (57)
Cardiff City Stadium

Commentary

That's all from Cardiff City Stadium today, so thank you for joining us and goodbye!
When Wales next take to the field, they'll tackle the USA in their first World Cup finals match since 1958; Poland kick off their Qatar 2022 campaign against Mexico a day later, on November 22.
Again falling just short in a one-goal defeat, Wales suffer relegation to the Nations League's second tier and will head into the World Cup on the back of five games without a win. A distinct lack of inspiration against a limited Poland side saw the hosts struggle in the final third, and the few chances they did produce were not converted - as a result, the Dragons end their campaign with just a single point. It was a moment of sublime creativity from Lewandowski and a sharp finish that made the difference, and the visitors preserve their spot among Europe's elite.
90' + 7' FULL-TIME: WALES 0-1 POLAND
90' + 6' Throughout stoppage time, Welsh pressure has been relentless, thanks to a more direct approach. But it's all too late, surely. The Dragons still need to score twice, and the final whistle is nigh.
K. Moore
Yellow Card
Wales
90' + 4' For using his arms to gain leverage over Krychowiak in the area, Moore's is the latest name scribbled into the referee's notebook.
B. Johnson
Yellow Card
Wales
90' + 2' For his part in the melee between a number of players, Johnson is booked.
K. Glik
Yellow Card
Poland
90' + 2' After a scuffle involving several players on either side, Glik is shown a yellow card by the referee.
90' + 1' OFF THE BAR! Bale rattles the woodwork! The Wales skipper connects with a drilled Thomas cross from the right, directing his header at goal under pressure. However, it strikes the top of the bar and bounces away to safety!
R. Gumny
B. Bereszyński
Poland
90' Shortly after receiving a yellow card, Bereszynski is withdrawn; Gumny comes on.
89' Thomas pumps a free-kick into the area from deep on the left-hand side, and that's simple for Szczesny to claim unchallenged by the penalty spot. Another example of Wales' wastefulness today - they've just lacked a little guile in the final third.
B. Bereszyński
Yellow Card
Poland
88' For a cynical foul on James, who was sprinting away from him into space, Bereszynski is booked.
87' Twice in a matter of moments, Szczesny gathers low crosses from James and then Colwill, when both were well placed inside the area on the left. Wales can't afford to waste such opportunities now.
S. Thomas
C. Roberts
Wales
85' Another substitution for the hosts sees Roberts making way for Thomas.
S. Szymański
S. Żurkowski
Poland
83' Zurkowski comes off, and Szymanski is his replacement in the Poland midfield.
82' Zalewski fires wide from outside the area, wasting a few valuable seconds in the process.
80' Poland are trying to draw the remaining sting from their opponents, as they retain the ball in midfield. A tired-looking Wales are clearly frustrated, but they just can't gain possession.
78' Stretching to make contact, Rodon can only steer his header from near the penalty spot wide of the goal from James' corner. Wales just cannot break through, and Poland stand firm.
77' Szczesny has to react quickly, as a pacey low ball across the area by James heads towards his left-hand post. The goalkeeper makes a smart stop and tips the ball behind for a corner.
76' Zielinski swings in another corner, from which Piatek then sees his shot blocked by Williams at close range.
74' Following a corner from Zielinski, Kiwior over-extends himself in a aerial challenge and crashes down to the turf. Fortunately, not too much damage is done, and the Spezia centre-back is able to get up and dust himself down.
R. Colwill
D. Levitt
Wales
72' Another change for the hosts sees Levitt replaced by Colwill.
71' Page is readying another change, as his side labour in their attempts to get back on level terms. With his resources reduced by injury and suspension, there are precious few alternatives left to him now.
69' Even with Moore joining Bale on the pitch, Wales have yet to carve out any more chances to equalise. They are running out of time to preserve their top-tier status in the Nations League - can anyone offer at least one moment of inspiration?
67' In a rare lack of clarity, Lewandowski sends a bizarre cross-shot several yards wide of the left-hand post and throws his hands to the sky. His team lead by a goal heading towards the final 20 minutes, though.
K. Piątek
K. Świderski
Poland
65' Following what could be the decisive goal, Swiderski makes way for Piatek, who joins Lewandowski up front.
65' Wales' most dangerous player so far today, Johnson again surges down the right before progressing into the area and firing a shot well wide of the target.
62' The goalscorer Swiderski brings down Levitt, conceding a free-kick, only shortly after a challenge between the same pair resulted in the opposite outcome.
60' CLOSE! Szczesny makes a crucial save, as Johnson drives in a left-footed shot from the right side of box towards the bottom corner. It was a good effort, but the goalkeeper was equal to it!
K. Moore
R. Norrington-Davies
Wales
58' Now needing at least two goals, Wales switch systems: Norrington-Davies is replaced by imposing centre-forward Moore.
K. Świderski
Goal
Poland
57' POLAND LEAD! Alert to a perfectly cushioned pass from Lewandowski on the edge of the box, Swiderski's surging run ends with a sweeping finish into the back of the net; leaving Hennessey with no chance! The Poland captain created it, and now the hosts have a mountain to climb - they trail 1-0!
R. Lewandowski
Assist
Poland
57' With a delightful half-volleyed pass over his shoulder, Lewandowski cushions the ball into Swiderski's path to set up the opening goal.
54' Wales are without a win in four games (one draw, three defeats) for the first time since 2017. If they cannot end that run today, relegation to League B awaits.
52' Page may be contemplating a change of approach here, as Moore warms up and takes on board instructions by the touchline. The hosts have failed to make a sustained push for an opening goal, and perhaps need another option up front.
50' A shoulder-to-shoulder challenge between Glik and James just inside the Poland area sees the latter penalised for a foul, though it appeared his opponent made some contact with his shoulder. There were claims for a penalty, but the referee gives the decision the other way.
N. Williams
Yellow Card
Wales
48' After Bereszynski picks up an overhit cross from Zalewski on the right touchline, he evades Williams, whose desperate covering challenge brings his opponent down. That's a booking for the Wales wing-back.
46' We are back under way in Cardiff!
Naturally, as the second half wears on, if Wales remain level, then Moore's potential presence off the bench could prove a game-changer; Poland still have Milik and Piatek up their sleeve.
With the momentum swaying from one side to the other before a somewhat scrappy conclusion to the first half, Wales and Poland remain level in their final-day showdown for League A survival. The hosts started out the stronger, without creating many gilt-edged chances, and only efforts on the break from James and Johnson came close to breaking the deadlock in their favour. Poland, meanwhile, have been a little subdued, and seem to lack ideas in the final third - a draw will suffice for them to avoid relegation, though.
45' + 4' HALF-TIME: WALES 0-0 POLAND
45' + 3' Szczesny bravely intervenes at the feet of Bale inside the six-yard box, as the Wales skipper attempts to latch on to a looping Rodon header. He took a boot for the cause, but completes an important save.
45' + 1' After a series of stoppages for minor injuries, three additional minutes have been indicated by the officials at the end of the first half.
44' An absorbing first half is coming to its close with both sides trading blows. Clear-cut chances have been few and far between, but it has been a fiercely competitive contest for League A survival so far.
R. Norrington-Davies
Yellow Card
Wales
42' After making the slightest of contact with Lewandowski in an aerial challenge, Norrington-Davies is shown a rather harsh yellow card by the referee.
41' JUST WIDE! Picking up the ball on the edge of the area, Johnson strikes a low, left-footed shot from just outside the box towards the bottom corner, but it takes a big deflection off James and runs behind for a goal-kick.
40' Hennessey is called into action again, as Zielinski takes a pop at goal from over 20 yards out. His shot has some power but arrows straight at the Wales keeper, who makes a straightforward stop.
39' CLOSE! Within millimeters of calamity, Hennessey allows a backpass to trickle under his boot and the ball rolls threateningly towards the goal line. With a last-gasp stretch of his leg, the goalkeeper manages to keep the ball out - just!
37' Wales continue to test Poland's less-than-mobile back three with some direct running, but the visitors remain steadfast. They only need a point, remember, whereas the Dragons must win.
G. Krychowiak
Yellow Card
Poland
35' Caught out in midfield, as Morrell runs away from him, Krychowiak hauls back his opponent and receives the game's first yellow card.
34' As a measure of how well balanced this encounter has been so far, the possession has been shared almost equally: Wales with 49 per cent to Poland's 51.
32' DOUBLE SAVE! On the break, James gets in behind the Polish defence and sprints into the left side of the box; aiming a low shot at goal. Szczesny gets down well to make a smart stop, before he shuts out the Fulham winger's follow-up at the near post!
29' Arriving at the back post, to meet a cross from far out on the left, Roberts clatters into the back of Zalewski in an aerial challenge and gives away a free-kick. That's turning into quite a duel between the two wing-backs on the Welsh right flank.
27' The pendulum has swung, and Poland are now totally on top. They are camped inside the Wales half, and patiently probe for an opening.
25' SAVE! An inswinging free-kick from the left wing by Zielinski drifts dangerously across the box, before it takes a flick off Lewandowski's shoulder near the penalty spot: Hennessey gets down to snatch the ball low to his left.
24' The theme continues, as Lewandowski drops to the turf clutching his face after the slightest brush from Cabango, 25 yards from goal. The referee is disinterested in his claims for a free-kick though.
22' Back on his feet, Zalewski progresses to the left side of the Wales box, but his deflected cross drops behind his colleagues inside the area. Soon after, the Poland attack peters out - it has not been a convincing start from the visitors so far.
20' Another Poland player hits the deck, as wing-back Zalewski takes an arm in the face from Roberts. The game is paused while the Roma man is assessed by the medics.
18' Betraying his frustration at a lack of service so far, Lewandowski concedes a needless free-kick for a foul on Cabango, who had just managed to steal the ball away from the Barcelona striker.
16' Glik is brought down by an ill-timed sliding challenge from Bale in midfield, and clutches his shin in apparent agony. No further action is taken against the Wales captain, though, and the veteran defender is eventually able to continue.
14' Wales win the first corner of the game, but James' inswinging cross from the right goes out of play before entering the box and the chance is wasted.
12' Exhibiting great confidence in the opposition area, James and Johnson exchange flicked passes, but the latter's backheeled return is just overhit and drifts out for a goal-kick.
10' A challenge by Cabango on Zielinski sees the latter crumple down to the turf, bringing the game to a temporary halt. Not long after, though, the Napoli schemer is back on his feet and returns to the fray.
9' Wales have lost each of their past five games against Poland, and have not beaten today's opponents since 1963, so precedent is certainly not on their side today.
7' A moment of panic between Rodon and Hennessey almost sees Swiderski nip in and steal the ball on the edge of the area. The Wales goalkeeper does just enough to gather the ball to his body before sliding out of the box.
5' Only a few stray touches around the edge of the Poland area prevents Wales from breaching their visitors' box, and the tide of red shirts continues to flood forward.
3' It is Wales who have taken the early initiative on home soil, and they are dominating possession so far; forcing the white jerseys of the Polish team back into their defensive third.
1' The hosts kick off, and we are under way in the Welsh capital!
Following renditions of both national anthems, the players are taking up their positions and kick-off at Cardiff City Stadium is now just moments away!
Poland make three changes from the side that started their loss to the Netherlands, as Bereszynski, Zurkowski and Swiderski come in for Franowski, Linetty and Szymanski. Record goalscorer Lewandowski leads the line up front and captains the side, with Piatek and Milik both consigned to the bench.
An already depleted Wales squad - without regulars including Ben Davies, Joe Allen, Aaron Ramsey and Harry Wilson - is short of suspended duo Chris Mepham and Ethan Ampadu today, too. Nonetheless, captain Bale is fit to start after appearing as a second-half substitute in Thursday's defeat to Belgium, replacing Moore up front. In all, there are four changes for the hosts, with Cabango, Morrell and Levitt also coming into the first XI.
SUBS: Bartlomiej Dragowski, Lukasz Skorupski, Mateusz Wieteska, Arkadiusz Milik, Jakub Kaminski, Tomasz Kedziora, Michal Skoras, Kamil Grosicki, Sebastian Szymanski, Jakub Piotrowski, Krzysztof Piatek, Robert Gumny.
POLAND (3-4-2-1): Wojciech Szczesny; Jan Bednarek, Kamil Glik, Jakub Kiwior; Bartosz Bereszynski, Szymon Zurkowski, Grzegorz Krychowiak, Nicola Zalewski; Karol Swiderski, Piotr Zielinski; Robert Lewandowski.
SUBS: Danny Ward, Tom King, Jonathan Williams, Sorba Thomas, Mark Harris, Chris Gunter, Matthew Smith, Wes Burns, Kieffer Moore, Tyler Roberts, Jordan James, Rubin Colwill.
WALES (3-4-2-1): Wayne Hennessey; Joe Rodon, Ben Cabango, Rhys Norrington-Davies; Connor Roberts, Dylan Levitt, Joe Morrell, Neco Williams; Brennan Johnson, Dan James; Gareth Bale.
Meanwhile, Poland start today's game aware that even a draw will be enough to retain their League A status. The Eagles came out on top in the reverse fixture, with a 2-1 comeback victory in June, but have posted only one other win from their last eight matches. Also heading for Qatar in November, Czeslaw Michniewicz's men suffered a 2-0 defeat at home to the Netherlands on Thursday, which leaves them needing one more point to seal survival.
Concluding their Nations League campaign on home soil today, Wales will kick off their final fixture knowing only a win will do if they are to avoid demotion from the competition's top tier. Sitting at the bottom of League A Group 4 with one point from five matches, Rob Page's side have suffered defeats to Belgium, Poland and the Netherlands by one-goal margins, and most recently lost 2-1 to Belgium on Thursday. In fact, the World Cup-bound Dragons have won only two of their last nine matches in all competitions.
Hello and welcome to live coverage of today's decisive UEFA Nations League clash between Wales and Poland at Cardiff City Stadium!