Sports

Wales 0-0 Estonia: Bale, Roberts and Wilson all miss chances as Rob Page’s side held to draw

Wales missed the chance to move into second in their World Cup qualifying group after being held to a goalless draw by Estonia.

Rob Page’s dominated long periods of the match at Cardiff City Stadium and had chances to win it through the likes of Harry Wilson, Tyler Roberts and Gareth Bale.

And while the Red Dragons stretched their unbeaten run in home games to 14, there was no doubt that this was a real missed opportunity from Wales who are behind Czech Republic in Group E on goal difference, although they boast a game in hand over the current runners-up.

It also severely dented Wales’ hopes of finishing first after group leaders Belgium beat Belarus 1-0 to open up a nine-point gap at the summit of the pool.

Page made three changes to the side that started the dramatic 3-2 win over Belarus in Russia three days earlier.

He resisted the urge to thrust the returning Joe Rodon into the limelight, with Ethan Ampadu instead replacing James Lawrence in defence.

Wilson and Roberts came in for Rubin Colwill and Brennan Johnson further up the pitch as Wales showed their intent to attack the game before a ball had even been kicked in Cardiff.

A warm September evening ensured the Red Wall – who had not watched their heroes live in person en masse since Wales qualified for Euro 2020 by beating Hungary 2-0 696 days earlier – could fill the stands in pure comfort.

Following a truly rousing rendition of Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, the Red Wall almost erupted just 38 seconds into the game as Chris Gunter burst up the right flank before squaring to Wilson who could only guide his shot wide.

That effort set the tone as Page’s men dominated the ball early on, and the slick playing surface ensured they were far more comfortable than they were on Kazan’s Central Stadium surface on Sunday.

Joe Allen’s industry in the centre of the park almost reaped rewards in the 18th minute as he won possession which allowed Daniel James to charge forwards.

The winger squared the ball to his Leeds United team mate Roberts who then teed up Gareth Bale, although the captain could only fire wide from the edge of the box.

It was all one-way traffic though, and Roberts himself then drilled wide after latching on to Wilson’s through ball.

Without causing Danny Ward any issues, Estonia managed to take the sting out of proceedings as the first half wore on.

Wilson was forced off through injury 10 minutes before the break which gave Jonny Williams the chance to prove his worth.

And the hosts survived a major scare soon after as Mattias Kait’s curling effort rattled the top of Ward’s crossbar as the score remained level at the break following a flat end to the opening 45.

On 52 minutes, the Red Wall paid a touching tribute Gary Speed on what would have been the former player and manager’s 52nd birthday.

The home side attempted to use that emotional moment to lift the tempo against the lowest ranked side in the group, and Estonia had goalkeeper Karl Hein to thank for clawing away Bale’s goalbound header from Ben Davies’ free-kick.

Davies then went close as his deflected effort was gathered by Hein before Bale rallied the Red Wall as Williams received treatment following a collision with the Estonia goalkeeper.

Page’s troops should have gone in front on the hour mark as Joe Morrell’s defence splitting pass sent Roberts through on goal, but Hein flung out his left leg to keep out the striker’s effort to ensure the game remained goalless.

It proved to be the Leeds man’s final act as he was duly replaced by Mark Harris.

The Cardiff City man injected life into Wales’ attack and had a shot blocked before Bale fired well wide on 70 minutes.

They continued to push, although Estonia’s time-wasting gave the visitors a vital chance to regroup ahead of the final Wales onslaught.

Bale himself had three chances in the space of a minute, although he was twice denied by Hein either side of seeing a header hit the post.

The Real Madrid ace then drilled a free-kick just over while Ampadu hit the bar with a looping header before six minutes of added time were signalled by the fourth official.

Ward made two vital saves late on before appeals for a penalty were waved away after Morrell hit the deck.

And a frustrating night ended with Wales failing to beat the 110th ranked side in the world ahead of next month’s away clashes with Czech Republic and Estonia.



Wales’ Gareth Bale (left) and Estonia’s Artur Pikk battle for the ball during the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifying match at the Cardiff City Stadium

Wales: Ward; Gunter, Mepham, Ampadu, B Davies; Allen, Morrell; Bale (C), Wilson (J Williams 36), James; T Roberts (Harris 63).

Subs not used: Hennessey, King, J Lawrence, Rodon, Colwill, Johnson, Norrington-Davies, Smith, Woodburn, Levitt.

Yellow card: Morrell 73

Estonia: Hein; Kuusk, Paskotsi (Lukka 86), Kait, Pikk; Anier (Sinyavskiy 71), Vassilijev (C), Mets, Kreida (Poom 86), Puri (Lilander 29); Sappinen (Sorga 71).

Subs not used: Igonen, Vallner, Zenjov, Miller, Kirss, Peetson, Teniste.

Yellow cards: Puri 24, Kreida 80

Referee: Ruddy Buquet

Attendance: 21,624

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