Wales squad’s reaction says it all as Dan James devastated after missing crucial penalty | Football | Sport

Daniel James was left visibly emotional following Wales’ European Championship qualifying defeat against Poland. The ex-Manchester United man missed the crucial spot-kick during the shootout following a goalless 120 minutes of action in Cardiff.

James was the fifth Welsh player to step up in the penalty shootout, with all nine spot-kicks before his having found the net. Unfortunately for the Leeds United winger, goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was equal to the effort, confirming his nation’s passage into this summer’s European Championships in Germany, while ending hopes of qualification for Wales.

In truth, it was a tame strike from James, whose side-footed effort was easily parried away by former Arsenal shot-stopper Szczesny. Placed at a perfect height for the Juventus man, the shot was tipped away past the post, with James then struggling to keep his emotions in check following the miss, leading to various members of the Wales squad rushing over to console him.

Rob Page’s side had progressed beyond Finland earlier in the week to set up the qualification showdown against Poland. But Wales, who had won just one of their previous 10 encounters against Poland, failed to capitalise on their home advantage and were left rueing missed opportunities following a frustrating evening in the capital.

The hosts restricted their continental opponents to no shots on target throughout the contest, while at the opposite end Page’s men passed up several gilt-edge chances. Wales did have the ball in the back of the net just before the break too, but Ben Davies’ header was adjudged to have been offside following a tight VAR call.

That dominance continued into the second period for Wales, who continued to press the Polish backline. Kieffer Moore was the next Welsh player to come close, but Szczesny – who would later prove to be the hero for Poland – tipped a close-range header from the striker over the top of the crossbar.

Despite a late red card for Chris Mepham, it was Wales who were left the most frustrated at the end of the extra time. They’ve made a habit of qualifying for major tournaments in recent years, but they’ll be forced to sit out the upcoming finals in Germany following the heartbreaking Poland loss.

It will come as no consolation, given their desperation to be involved, but Wales have at least avoided what might be considered as the ‘Group of Death’ at Euro 2024. Had they beaten Poland during Tuesday night’s qualification decider, the Euro 2016 semi-finalsits would’ve been placed in a group alongside Austria, the Netherlands and many people’s pre-tournament favourites, France.

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