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Estonia 0-1 Wales: Kieffer Moore strike earns Rob Page’s men vital World Cup qualifying win

Kieffer Moore’s seventh international goal proved enough for Wales to secure a hard-fought 1-0 World Cup qualifying victory over Estonia.

The 29-year-old poked home from close range in the 12th minute to give his side a dream start.

Wales continued to create chances in the first half, although Estonia were much-improved after the restart and could well have nicked a point for their efforts, with Danny Ward producing an heroic save to deny Vlasiy Sinyavskiy.

And while Czech Republic claimed victory over Belarus at the same time, Wales did their job sufficiently to keep their hopes of clinching runner-up spot alive ahead of next month’s home double header against Belarus and Belgium.

Knowing victory was vital when it came to his side’s quest to be seeded for the play-offs, Rob Page named an attack-minded lineup for the game in Tallinn.

Harry Wilson replaced Joe Morrell following Friday night’s 2-2 draw with Czech Republic in Prague while Connor Roberts and Sorba Thomas started in the wing-back berths instead of Chris Gunter and Neco Williams.

The intent was there for all to see from the outset as Wales committed bodies forward, with Wilson in particular looking to take the game to the side ranked 111th in the world by FIFA.

The Fulham ace rippled the roof of the net with a free-kick before Roberts forced Karl Hein into a fine one-handed save with a driven strike from outside the box as Wales controlled proceedings.

And from the resulting corner after Roberts was denied, Wales struck gold.

Estonia made a hash of clearing Daniel James’ corner, and Moore prodded home from the best part of a yard out to make it 1-0.

Following the frustration of the goalless draw between the sides in Cardiff last month, the early strike proved to be just the tonic Wales needed as it ensured they could play with a swagger as well as more freedom.

The hosts – who had scored more goals than Wales during the qualifying campaign ahead of the game – had their moments though.

Chris Mepham did well to block Erik Sorga’s shot, although Moore almost made it 2-0 moments later as he flicked James’ cross goalwards, only to see Hein pounce on the ball at the vital moment.

Having gifted Czech Republic a goal three days earlier, Wales were almost the architects of their own downfall midway through the opening half as Wilson’s pass inside his own box was intercepted, although Joe Rodon was alert to clear Sergei Zenjov’s dinked effort off his own line after Ward took the sting out of the shot.

The Red Dragons swiftly regained their composure though, and Ethan Ampadu blazed well over following a marauding run from the halfway line.

After a flurry of goalmouth activity early on, clear cut openings dried up as the first half wore on, although, after Wilson’s 30-yard free-kick was comfortably dealt with by Hein, Wales crucially took a slender lead into the break.

That advantage was almost wiped out five minutes after the restart, but fortunately for the visitors, Sorga’s glancing header from Markus Poom’s free-kick flew just over the crossbar.

Page was left furious on the hour mark as Moore was struck in the face in a challenge that left the striker with a bloody nose, but referee Sandro Scharer refused to point to the penalty spot.

The Cardiff City man’s frustrations then grew even further as he was yellow carded for an apparent elbow, with that caution meaning he is suspended for next month’s clash with Belarus at Cardiff City Stadium.

Mattias Kait spurned a fine chance to make it 1-1 on 64 minutes as he fired straight at Ward after going through on goal as Wales struggled to put the game to bed.

Mark Harris replaced a battered and bruised Moore with 20 minutes left on the clock as Estonia refused to go down without a fight.

Ward then brilliantly clawed away Sinyavskiy’s goalbound effort to ensure Wales remained ahead when Joe Morrell replaced captain Aaron Ramsey.

Harris’ tame shot was easily dealt with as Gunter and Brennan Johnson replaced Roberts and Wilson respectively late on.

And Wales held on to claim all three points which means their destiny remains firmly in their own hands as far as the race for second place in Group E is concerned, although, realistically, they will need a win against Belarus and at least a draw with Belgium to finish second.

Estonia: Hein; Teniste (Ojamaa 75), Kuusk (C), Tamm, Paskotsi, Pikk (Sinyavskiy 57); Poom, Mets, Kait (Kallaste 82); Zenjov (Vastsuk 82), Sorga (Kirss 82).

Subs not used: Igonen, Vallner, Lukka, Purg.

Yellow cards: Pikk 24, Kait 31, Kuusk 59

Wales: Ward; Mepham, Rodon, Ampadu; Roberts (Gunter 83), Allen, Thomas; Ramsey (C) (Morrell 79), Wilson (Johnson 83); James, Moore (Harris 70).

Subs not used: Hennessey, A Davies, N Williams, Lawrence, T Roberts, J Williams, Vaulks, Cabango.

Goal: Moore 12

Yellow cards: Wilson 35, Thomas 55

Referee: Sandro Scharer

Attendance: 5,118

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