Wales v Finland: Euro 2024 qualifying playoff semi-final – live | Euro 2024 qualifying

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I don’t speak Welsh but I’m hearing a lot of ‘Garteh Bale’ from the commentators.

It’s a fair comparison. That was a world class strike from a left back Welshman.

GOAL! Wales 2-0 Finland (Williams, 38)

Pick that one out!! Neco Williams has smashed one into the top corner. You don’t save those. Wilson fakes a shot from the free-kick and as he does he nudges the ball for Williams who now has a clear sight to the top right corner. But he has to find it and doesn’t he just! A rocket doubles Wales’ lead.

36 min: Finland fluff it! Mepham gifts the ball to Pukki and it’s a three on two. Pukki passes infield to Kamara who dummies and the shot from [I missed his name] is angled from the left. It deflects and Pukki chases but can’t reach the bobbling ball.

Wales counter and win a free-kick just outside the box. Wilson looks the most interested. Big chance to get one on target but might be too close inside the D.

34 min: Oooh, there’s a stinging shot from range off the left boot of Harry Wilson. Hradecky watches it all the way and it barely gets above waist height so it’s an easy save. Still, some ambition from the Welshman who is doing the most bustling.

32 min: Roberts plays a pass for Brooks who shows great speed down the flank to get onto the ball. But the recovery defence is fast as well and Finland snuff out a move that momentarily threatened to get interesting.

Game has really fallen into a lull. Some pretty passing in midfield but no real continuity or control from either team.

30 min: The ball hits the referee, which actually turns into a decent touch for Wales and they’re away down field. But the whistle sounds which prompts a moan from Davies. No idea why. Of course the game had to stop.

27 min: Wales over play at the back and the ball squirts to a Finnish wide player who rushes in and scuffs a shot that is, I think, blocked by a teammate. That was messy all round.

Wilson then gets on the front foot but can’t find a man in red with a dangerous looking sliding pass against the grain. Johnson wins a tussle in the box and peppers the side-netting, but is blown for a foul.

Wales can’t sit back and let Finland have chances. They need to get a second.

26 min: This has got a strange feel to it. As David Bowen says, Wales are playing “like an away team in a Champions League match”. They’re sitting back and waiting to counter.

“Not unique to tonight either, even Coleman played deep and reactive stuff but he had a perennially Alice banded hero to rely on,” says David.

25 min: Another good recovering header back to Ward from Roberts. He’s playing like a rugby full-back, marshalling high balls and keeping things safe at the back.

1-0 to Poland. They’re up on Estonia thanks to a 22nd minute goal from Przemysław Frankowski.

22 min: First card of the match and there can be no complaints, really. Wales cleared the free-kick and then worked a quick move that had Williams scampering away down the touchline. But Lod clattered him and got booked.

21 min: Roberts is having a busy game. A swift foot makes a tackle that knocks the ball out for a corner. The ball is an away swinger that reaches the full-back on the opposite side if the pitch. They’ll get another chance to lift one in though with a free-kick from the right.

19 min: Wilson dances round one on the edge of the box, then another. Brilliant feet. He’s worked the space to shoot but doesn’t. Instead he plays a pass across the area and it’s cleared. I wonder if he realised he was in a bit of clear air. Lovely feet though. Would like to see more of him on the ball.

17 min: Better from Finland as neat passing has an attack forming down the left. Swift cover defence though forces the play back infield. They go back to the left. They fancy having a go at Roberts.

15 min: Finland don’t appear to have much beyond a few plodding passes followed by a long ball. Now their ‘keeper has been harried into a rushed clearance.

14 min: An off-side call saves Johnson’s blushes. He was put clean through but was, admittedly, a mile off. He didn’t know that and a poor first touch meant Hradecky had time to smother the shot. Willson on the follow-up was bundled over but told to get up. Wouldn’t have mattered anyway as it was off-side. Better from Wales. They’ve slipped into a slight lull with Finland doing the running.

9 min: Huge chance for Finland. A cross from the left is dug out and won at the back post. Hakans comes running in but can’t keep his first time shot down from close range and balloons it over. Hate to say it but he probably should have done better there.

8 min: Finland figure they might as well launch it on but Roberts does well, running back to header safely to Ward.

6 min: Finland with the ball but they can’t find a pass out from their back four into midfield. When they do manage to work it upfield a man in red shuts the space down.

5 min: Hard to say if Wales deserved that, if you know what I mean. It’s not like it was coming. That was the first attack of the game! Still, it’s quite clear they’re the superior side. Sharper on the ball and more organised on the press. Finland are forced to go back to their ‘keeper.

GOAL! Wales 1-0 Finland (Brooks, 3)

Wales on the board! The ball is worked down the left and brought back into midfield. A clever 1-2 with Wilson leading the charge has him in the in the box. He shoots, it’s saved but falls to Brookes who rises to side-foot volley into an empty net.

David Brooks is in the right place to give Wales a dream start in Cardiff. Photograph: Ryan Hiscott/Getty Images
What a start for Wales! Photograph: Jan Kruger/UEFA/Getty Images

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2 min: Wales with the early ball. Nico Williams with some of it before a long raking pass from deep bobbles away for a goal kick.

Kick off! Finland in blue, Wales in red. Here we go.

The Finns are bouncing in the away end. They’re making most of the news coming off the telly.

Are Wales playing a back 5 or a back 3? I can never tell these days with modern full-backs.

A correction, with thanks to Simon McMahon:

“Hi Daniel. I think Alun Pugh may actually have been hoping to see this. And as a bonus he can have a patronising ‘good luck Wales’ message from Scotland too.”

Time for the anthems. Wales in red, Finland in blue tracksuit tops. Might be white under that.

These two have met 15 times and the record is pretty even.

Wales have won six with Finalnd winning four. There have also been four draws, including the 0-0 stalemate in a friendly in their last encounter in 2021.

Finland will look to keep a clean sheet in original fashion, as Peter Oh reveals:

“Hi Daniel,

Looking at the Finland back line, I’m struck by the fact that Tenho Alho is Portuguese for ‘I have garlic’. Perhaps this is a creative tactic to ward off close defending, or vampires.”

I’ve got some bad news. Bad news for me that is.

This game is only available (legally) to me in Welsh. Which means I’m going to struggle with some of the names. Fear not, I’ll be paying close attention. But I might offer the occasional comment that fails to mention the protagonists by name.

I just got an email expressing disappointment that we don’t cover enough smaller nations.

I was worried that a Welsh fan was about demonstrate an inferiority complex. But Alun Pugh was actually referencing San Marino’s 1-3 reverse at home to Saint Kitts and Nevis. And to think the European minnows were actually the bookies’ favourites. Their search for a win goes on.

Alun is in Cardiff ready for a titanic clash:

“Hi Dan

“Greetings from Cardiff.

“Disappointed that there wasn’t MBM coverage for last night’s crunch match between San Marino and St Kitts and Nevis.

“San Marino once gave this nation a belly laugh when they went 1-0 up against our dear friends and neighbours. While we are waiting for kick off can you dig out a video clip for our entertainment?


Here ya go:

Our reader Liam McCubbin has made a severe lapse in judgement!

“Off to see Chris Staples, only realised the mistake when the small Welsh contingent (hi Nick) asked which Irish bar in Barcelona we are watching it in.

“Will read your report on the way home, regardless of score.”

Fear not Liam. I’m quite confident you’ll be happy when you see the result.

Please remind me of this if I get it wrong but I’m saying 2-0 to Wales.

Wales can draw upon recent experience in Euro play-offs. They beat Austria and Ukraine to qualify for the World Cup two years ago.

They are of course missing Gareth Bale who was instrumental in ending a 64-year absence from the greatest show on earth.

Those of us who don’t consume Welsh football content every day must have had similar reactions.

Did you also blink and an entire golden generation seemed to shuffle off the board? That’s how fast things can move sometimes but the Welsh aren’t standing still.

Manager Rob Page has placed his faith in youth. Teenagers and young ‘uns in their early 20s are a feature across the squad and the boss reckons Wales are a force on the rise.

Here’s Ben Fisher’s take on what I’m legally obligated to call ‘the project’:

Speaking of Teemu Pukki. Our man Ewan Murray spoke with the former Norwich striker and found him in bullish mood.

Finland team news

I’m not going to pretend to have intimate knowledge on this side. Especially when their main man, Robert Taylor, plays for Inter Miami and is injured.

Still, the familiar face of Teemu Puki is present. He’s now knocking about for Minnesota United where he’s bagged 12 goals from 18 games.

They’re playing with a back four with three midfielders. If Wales can flood them there they may have they may have the run of things.

Finland 4-3-3: Hradecky (c); Peltola, Ivanov, Tenho, Alho; Kamara, Schuller, Lod; Hakans, Pohjanpalo, Pukki.

Replacements: Jorenen, Sinisalo, Jensen, Hoskonen, Suhonen, Jensen, Soiri, Karinen, Antman, Uronen, Kallman, Niskanen.

Wales team news

Aaron Ramsey starts on the bench. He’s not quite right as her’s finding his feet through this stop-start season. It’s a potent looking front three though if they can find some midfield dominance.

Leicester’s ‘keeper Danny Ward gets a game having not played for his club for 12 months.

Wales 3-4-3: Ward; Rodon, Mepham, Davies (c); Roberts, Ampadu, J James, Williams; Wilson, Johnson, Brooks.

Replacements: Hennesey, King, Fox, Dasilva, Sheeha, Savage, D James, Matondo, Broadhead, Cullen, Moore.


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This is what it’s about. There’s nothing like the thrill of jeopardy in sport and there’s so much riding on this one.

Wales and Finland are just two games away from a spot in the Euros. First, they have to get through this one.

In Cardiff, with that crowd, and with the memory of a famous win over Croatia, Wales will back themselves.

They’re 31 ranking places above Finland but is that worth much? The Finns won twice as many games as Wales in the group stage (though they did play two games more) so aren’t rolling in as pushovers.

Still, it’s hard to think that Wales, even with the sheen taken off, won’t let up a chance to reach the big stage. Poland and Estonia await at the next hurdle and that’ll also be played in Cardiff.

Look, with the way the rugby side’s going, Welsh fans could do with a bit of cheer.

Kick-off at 7:45pm.

Teams and more updates to come.

If you fancy, please drop a line on email. Would love to hear from you.

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