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1 - 0
G. Bale (34)
Cardiff City Stadium
Wales v Ukraine Live Commentary,
Brought to you by
90' + 4'
1 - 0
Shots Off Target
Shots On Target
That's all from a delighted Cardiff City Stadium, so thank you for joining us today and goodbye!
Both sides must soon recover from this intense struggle for a place in Qatar, as they are required to fulfil their Nations League fixtures in the coming week: World Cup finalists Wales meet the Netherlands in midweek, while beaten Ukraine travel on to Dublin.
Despite a determined display from their Ukrainian counterparts, who had the better chances and far more of the ball, Wales reach just their second-ever World Cup finals on a memorable day in Cardiff - they are heading to Qatar! Tears are shed by the beaten side in the driving rain, as all their attempts to find a way past Hennessey come to nothing, but a rousing reception from the away fans is certainly well earned. A day of contrasting emotions ends with the Dragons belatedly joining Group B, where they will face the USA on the tournament's opening day.
90' + 6'
FULL-TIME: WALES 1-0 UKRAINE
90' + 6'
Wilson makes a perfectly-timed sliding challenge on Shaparenko to the delight of the Welsh crowd, and there is surely no more time left!
90' + 4'
After Ampadu steals possession away from him in a chase for the ball, Mudryk barges his counterpart off the ball and receives a yellow card.
90' + 3'
To take up a few more seconds of stoppage time, Williams is taken off; Norrington-Davies comes on for a brief cameo on this potentially historic occasion.
90' + 2'
Ukraine have their hosts penned inside their own penalty area, but a series of crosses lack precision and then Yarmolenko shoots well over from the edge of the box.
There will be five additional minutes for Wales to withstand, as they claw their way closer to a first World Cup appearance since 1958.
An awful waste of an opportunity sees Sydorchuk swivel and shoot wildly over from 25 yards out, and that ball seems to still be rising as Hennessey takes the goal-kick to re-start play.
Mykolenko has a shot from outside the box saved in the centre of the goal by Hennessey, who makes one of the more simple stops of a busy shift.
SAVE! Yet again, Hennessey saves Wales, as Dovbyk heads towards the right side of the goal and the big keeper drops to his left and pushes the ball away to relative safety. Ukraine are not giving up on their World Cup dream easily!
Possibly even for the last time, Bale laps up the applause of the Cardiff crowd, as the Wales striker makes way for Wilson.
Williams earns a valuable free-kick in midfield, having been fouled by Sydorchuk, and not only will that eat up a few more seconds, it offers Wales the chance to make another substitution.
Sydorchuk plants a right-footed shot from outside the box straight at Hennessey, who completes a routine save to his left.
CLOSE! Not for the first time, Davies is the Welsh saviour, as the Tottenham defender blocks Yarmolenko's goalbound shot from inside the area. Heads are in hands on the Ukrainian bench - they can't believe they haven't equalised!
Tsygankov is the latest Ukraine player withdrawn; Mudryk comes on.
Ukraine make a change up front, as Yaremchuk comes off and Dovbyk is thrown on.
DOUBLE CHANCE! Twice, Wales are denied the security of a second goal. First, Johnson sneaks in at the back post to thud a shot against the base of the goalframe, and then Bushchan does brilliantly to parry away Bale's driven effort from the right side of the box!
A desparate attempt by substitute Shaparenko flies several yards over the crossbar, when others were better placed. Ukraine can't afford such unwise decision-making at this stage.
Hennessey holds onto the ball at his near post, after Mykolenko's cross from a good spot on the left edge of the box drifts too close to the Wales keeper. The tension is reaching new levels in Cardiff - one mistake could change everything!
Page decides to respond to Ukraine's double switch by taking off James and putting his trust in young Johnson, who has enjoyed a breakthrough campaign at Nottingham Forest.
The second substitution of a double change sees Stepanenko replaced by Sydorchuk.
Malinovskyi's race is run, as Shaparenko comes on to provide some fresh legs for Ukraine.
Zinchenko leans back on a volleyed attempt from the right side of box, having drifted into a couple of yards of precious space. The ball flies across the box and out for a goal-kick, as another half-chance goes by.
Moore aside, every red jersey is packed inside the Welsh defensive third, as Ukraine push on ever more insistently for an equaliser.
Ukraine are probing patiently in their efforts to prise open the Welsh defence, but Malinovskyi can't resist dropping the hammer on a typical left-footed shot from 20 yards. His attempt skips well wide of the far post, though.
Bale gets to the left byline, at the end of a move started by Williams, but his cutback towards the six-yard box is blocked away by a recovering defender and Ukraine regain the ball.
After surviving a corner at the other end, Wales counter quickly, and Ramsey clips the ball into James inside the box. Matvyenko manages to stick out a leg and divert the latter's goalbound shot over the bar.
Wales escape again, as Yarmolenko lurks in the centre of the area, ready to poke the ball home from eight yards out, but a superb covering tackle by Davies denies him the chance to strike!
SHARP STOP! Hennessey saves with his feet this time, as Tsygankov turns a low shot from the centre of the box towards goal, following another Mykolenko cross from the left. On the rebound, Yaremchuk can't adjust his feet in time, and guides the ball wide from close range.
On the counter, Wales break into the box on the right, but Bale can't quite connect with the ball and the chance is lost.
Mykolenko's attempted cross into the box from high up on the left flank by ends up in the gloves of Hennessey, who has certainly played his part in keeping Ukraine at bay so far.
For a verbal disagreement with the referee and his fellow officials, Page is shown a yellow card on the touchline. He is struggling to keep his cool in this pressure-cooker situation - there's so much at stake!
MISS! Starting on the halfway line, James eludes Stepanenko and surges towards the box with a lung-bursting run. He then lays the ball off for Moore on the left side of the area, and the striker's measured pass towards the unmarked Ramsey finds its target - however the Juventus midfielder slices the ball wide of the right-hand post with a tame effort from no more than 10 yards.
An overlapping run by Karavaev down the right and into the Wales area goes unrewarded, as Yaremchuk is on a different wavelength and cannot pick out his colleague with a misguided pass.
Kicking off a momentous 45 minutes of football in Cardiff, Wales get us back under way!
Having reached the World Cup just once since independence, Ukraine are seeking to end a miserable run of results in play-offs today. They have failed to make the finals on each of the four previous occasions they’ve featured in the play-offs: 1997 vs Croatia, 2001 vs Germany, 2009 vs Greece, and 2013 vs France.
Absorbing numerous attacks by their opponents, and scoring in a fairly fortuitous manner, Wales lead this World Cup qualifying decider by a goal at the interval and are potentially 45 minutes away from their first finals since 1958. Given their creative superiority so far, Ukraine will feel hard done by not to have broken the deadlock before Bale's free-kick was diverted past Bushchan by their own captain - and the hosts also survived a strong penalty claim.
45' + 2'
HALF-TIME: WALES 1-0 UKRAINE
45' + 2'
Wales end the half on a bright note, as on the second wave of an attacking move, James shoots from the left side of the area. It's straight at Bushchan, though, and that will surely be that for the first half of this tense encounter.
Latching onto a whipped corner from the left by Zinchenko, a glancing header by Zabarnyi bobbles dangerously inside the six-yard box. Under pressure, Rodon manages to shepherd the ball back to Hennessey.
After bringing down Karavaev, the referee metes out what appears to be a final warning to James, who has already been booked today. The Leeds United man will have to tread carefully now, as Wales cannot afford to go down to 10 men.
NO PENALTY! A controversial call is made - much to the relief of the home fans - as Allen is not penalised, and no penalty is awarded to Ukraine. That could have gone either way!
PENALTY TO UKRAINE? There is a VAR check under way, as Yarmolenko hits the deck following a coming-together with Allen inside the area. It looks like the former was inadvertently tripped, but will the officials agree?
Malinovskyi brings down Allen inside the Ukraine half, and from the free-kick, Bale switches the ball out to Rodon. However, the danger is ultimately cleared when it goes behind for a goal-kick despite appeals for a corner.
Despite only playing six games and less than 500 minutes in qualifying for Qatar 2022, only five European players have been involved in more goals this campaign than today's opening scorer Bale (five goals, three assists), who has averaged a goal or assist every 61 minutes.
WALES GO AHEAD! Against the run of play, the Dragons roar into the lead! Both captains are involved, as Bale drives a dangerous free-kick towards goal from the left side of the area and Yarmolenko can only deflect the ball past Bushchan with a diving header! It's Wales 1-0 Ukraine, with half-time looming on the horizon.
Mykolenko brings down James with a mistimed challenge, and becomes the first Ukraine player to be booked as a result.
Tsygankov can only turn the ball wide of the target with an outstretched boot, under pressure from Hennessey, who races off his line to palm the ball behind for a corner.
CLOSE! Hennessey has to make another save to thwart Ukraine's efforts at scoring the opener, after Zinchenko shoots towards the bottom corner from outside the box. Wales are being penned in here!
A slick passing move ends with Tsygankov sprinting past Ampadu down the left side of the area, but after he pokes a feeble attempt wide of the right-hand post from inside the box, the flag goes up to indicate he was caught offside.
Once more troubling the Welsh defence, Zinchenko - winning his 50th cap today - sees a shot from outside the box blocked away to relative safety.
Still, Buschan limps around his area in apparent discomfort, and the decision to leave him on the pitch could be counterproductive if he can't recover soon.
Following a surging run and cross from the left by Tsygankov, a good opportunity is spurned by Karavaev, who swings at a shot from near the penalty spot and barely makes contact. His second attempt is heavily deflected and loops up into the waiting gloves of Hennessey.
More medical attention for Buschan ends in the goalkeeper again being cleared to continue, but Pyatov has started warming up just in case.
Buschan is able to continue despite his apparent agony of moments ago, and the game goes on. However, the Ukraine keeper is not moving freely.
Zabarnyi concedes a corner, and after the ball eventually comes into the box from the left, Buschan makes an unconvincing attempt at punching it clear before landing on the turf and clutching his ankle.
These nations have rarely met in the past, but two contests during qualifying for the 2002 World Cup ended in 1-1 draws, and Ukraine came out on top in a 2016 friendly thanks to Yarmolenko's winning goal.
Finally, Wales are able to get a sustained spell of possession, and having withstood several blue waves in their defensive third, can now look forward. The crowd duly respond!
SAVE! Yaremchuk beats the offside trap by timing his run perfectly; latching onto Zabarnyi's ball up from the back and shooting towards goal from the right side of the box. Only at the second attempt does Hennessey manage to stop the ball squirming away following a save.
Again, Hennessey is called upon, as the Wales goalkeeper punches clear under pressure inside his area; conceding another corner - Ukraine are edging back on top.
A low, skidding strike by Tsygankov looks to be drifting just wide of the bottom-right post, but Hennessey intervenes to turn the ball behind for a corner.
Williams tries his luck from outside the box, but misses to the left side of the goal, having received the ball from Bale.
At the end of Wales' first spell of pressure, Davies attempts a long-range effort, but it deflects behind for the first corner of the game. It has been a lively start in Cardiff!
SAVE! From the re-taken free-kick, Malinovskyi takes his cue from ZInchenko and fires a trademark strike with his left foot towards goal. However, it strays too close to the centre of the goal and Ward makes a smart save.
Already the second Wales player booked, James sees yellow for disputing the referee's call on the award of a free-kick.
Wales are spared an embarrassing early deficit, as Zinchenko steps up and thumps an early free-kick from 25 yards straight into the bottom corner of the net. He caught everyone unaware, but the referee decides it was taken too quickly!
For fouling Stepanenko in midfield, Allen receives an early booking and will have to exercise some caution for the rest of the game.
The away side are dominating the ball in the opening throes of this play-off final, and Wales have to sit in deep and defend.
Ukraine kick off, and we are under way in the Welsh capital!
The players are now out on the pitch at a packed Cardiff City Stadium, with kick-off just moments away!
Intent on maintaining momentum from his side's semi-final win in Glasgow, Petrakov names an entirely unchanged Ukraine team for today's decider. Despite enduring a difficult time against Scotland, Bushchan starts in goal, ahead of the vastly experienced Pyatov. Two left-footers - Zinchenko and Malinovskyi - feature in central midfield, while Yaremchuk once again starts up front.
As expected, Wales make numerous changes to the side which started Wednesday’s game in Poland, with only Moore and James retaining their places. Page once again turns to captain and talisman Bale up front, while fellow veterans Ramsey and Allen feature in midfield. Edging out Ward for selection today, Burnley goalkeeper Hennessey earns his 102nd cap.
SUBS: Andriy Pyatov, Oleksandr Zubkov, Serhiy Sydorchuk, Dmytro Riznky, Artem Dovbyk, Mykola Shaparenko, Eduard Sobol, Mykhailo Mudryk, Valerii Bondar, Taras Kacharaba, Oleksandr Pikhalyonok, Oleksandr Syrota.
UKRAINE (4-1-4-1): Georgi Bushchan; Oleksandr Karavaev, Illia Zabarnyi, Mykola Matvyenko, Vitalii Mykolenko; Taras Stepanenko; Andriy Yarmolenko, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Ruslan Malinovskyi, Viktor Tsygankov; Roman Yaremchuk.
SUBS: Danny Ward, Sorba Thomas, Rhys Norrington-Davies, Chris Gunter, Rabbi Matondo, Joe Morrell, Mark Harris, Adam Davies, Jonny Williams, Harry Wilson, Brennan Johnson, Chris Mepham.
WALES (3-5-2): Wayne Hennessey; Ethan Ampadu, Joe Rodon, Ben Davies; Connor Roberts, Aaron Ramsey, Joe Allen, Daniel James, Neco Williams; Kieffer Moore, Gareth Bale.
Amid the turmoil of war back at home, Ukraine's footballers represented their nation in impeccable fashion on Wednesday, as they defeated semi-final opponents Scotland 3-1 at Hampden Park. Now unbeaten in eight games since their Euro 2020 quarter-final exit to England, today's visitors are aiming to reach the World Cup for just the second time as an independent nation, after making the last eight back in 2006. Widely touted as the neutrals' favourites, victory for Oleksandr Petrakov's team would earn them a spot in Group B at Qatar 2022, alongside England, Iran and the USA.
Potentially just 90 minutes away from reaching the World Cup finals for just the second time ever, Wales play hosts in today's European qualifying play-off final. Aiming to follow in the footsteps of the nation's 1958 quarter-finalists, Rob Page's men managed to edge past Austria at the semi-final stage, having previously finished second in their group. While the Dragons failed to go 10 games in a row without defeat after losing Wednesday's Nations League clash with Poland, Page rested a number of regulars in Wroclaw, and his side have strung together an 18-game unbeaten streak on home soil since 2018.
Hello and welcome to live coverage of today's World Cup qualifying play-off final between Wales and Ukraine, at the Cardiff City Stadium!