Estonia 0-1 Wales: Goalkeeper Danny Ward atones for Czech howler with vital saves as visitors stand firm after Kieffer Moore tap in to boost World Cup play-off hopes
- Wales scraped past Estonia with an unconvincing win in Tallinn
- Kieffer Moore poked in from a yard out to give the visitors a 1-0 half-time lead
- Wales keeper Danny Ward Ward kept out Vlasiy Sinyavskiy’s curling effort late on
Wales may need the game of their lives against Belgium next month to boost their hopes of qualifying for the World Cup despite surviving a bruising encounter to claim an important win in Estonia.
Kieffer Moore’s early goal ensured Rob Page’s team collected three points in Tallinn to stay level on points with the Czech Republic, with a game in hand. Finishing second behind Belgium in the group would give Wales a better chance of a manageable play-off draw in the race for Qatar 2022.
Yet Wales’ game in hand on the Czechs is against Belgium, one of the best teams in the world. And given the Czechs have a superior goal difference, Wales may need to avoid defeat by Belgium to reach second spot.
Kieffer Moore’s early goal ensured Wales collected three points in Tallinn
Wales (3-5-2): Ward 6; Mepham 5.5, Rodon 6.5, Ampadu 6; C Roberts 6.5 (Gunter 83), *RAMSEY 7* (Morrell 80), Allen 6.5 Wilson 5.5 (Johnson 83), Thomas 6; James 6, Moore 6.5 (Harris 71, 6).
Subs not used: Hennessey, Davies, N Williams, Lawrence, T Roberts, J Williams, Vaulks, Cabango.
Scorers: Moore 12
Booked: Wilson, Thomas, Moore, Allen
Manager: Rob Page 6
Wales are virtually assured of a play-off place through their Nations League performances but relying on that alone would probably result in a tougher draw.
After their impressive substitute appearances in Prague, Connor Roberts – making his first start in any competition since Euro 2020 – and Harry Wilson were included from the off, while Sorba Thomas made his full debut on the left of the midfield five.
Estonia frustrated Wales in earning a 0-0 draw in Cardiff last month and they made their intentions clear early here, with a physical approach that left Page’s team in no doubt about the challenge ahead.
Yet Wales struck the first blow that mattered by taking the lead in the 12th minute. Roberts’ curling effort from the edge of the box was pushed wide and from the corner, Moore put Wales in front.
It was not a goal likely to make the Cardiff striker’s post-career showreel yet there was no disputing its importance. From the corner, Chris Mepham’s header rebounded off Ramsey towards goal, where Sergei Zenjov tried to hack it clear. With the ball loose, Ramsey headed goalwards and Zenjov tried to turn it away again only to steer it against Moore, who reacted quickest to prod in from a yard.
Wales tried to build on their lead when Dan James escaped down the right and crossed but Moore’s near-post flick was too close to Karl Hein.
Moore was struck in the face in a challenge in the box that left the striker with a bloody nose
The visitors’ poor concentration led to both the Czechs’ goals on Friday and they nearly brought about their own downfall. Under no pressure, Wilson presented Zenjov with the ball inside the Wales box, and was grateful to Joe Rodon for his goal-line clearance.
Wales did not learn their lesson, however, with Ramsey passing straight to Zenjov this time, though the Estonia forward fired well over from distance.
Estonia should have equalised five minutes after the break. Markus Poom – the son of former goalkeeper Mart Poom, who played for five English clubs – delivered the free-kick from the right and Erik Sorga headed it over despite being unmarked eight yards out.
Moore took an arm in the face in the penalty area from Marten Kuusk as they tussled for the both with both the referee and VAR deeming a booking sufficient for the defender – when Wales believed a sending-off and/or a penalty should have been given.
Wales survived a bruising encounter to claim an important win in Estonia on Monday night
Wales did not look in trouble during general play though they have a nasty habit of switching off at the wrong moment. Poor communication at the back let in Mattias Kait who shot straight at Ward.
Moore’s frustration grew when he was booked when challenging for an aerial ball on halfway, leading to a yellow card which will rule him out of next month’s qualifier against Belarus in Cardiff.
Soon afterwards Moore seemed to be having problems with his vision and he was quickly replaced by Mark Harris.
As the game wore on, Estonia grew in confidence and Ward was forced to make an important save to keep out substitute Vlasiy Sinyavskiy’s curling effort. Moments later, Harris failed to beat Hein with a shot on the turn when he should have allowed the ball to run for Thomas
Wales defender Ethan Ampadu (R) has a shot on goal in the first-half against Estonia
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