Wales’ win against the Czech Republic on Tuesday was one of the most exciting matches in the ongoing Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. It was an end-to-end affair that was decided by fine margins.
Wales needed the result more than the Czech Republic after losing to Belgium in their opening qualifying game. Fortunately, they managed to snatch a priceless win at the Cardiff City Stadium.
This was a game that had everything. Both teams created chances; there were tough tackles; the tactical duels were on point; and after 90 minutes, there was a red card apiece.
The Czechs would be right if they saw the result as unfair, especially after the effort they put in. However, football can sometimes be cruel, and Wales proved to be the more clinical side on the day.
Daniel James comes to Wales' rescue
Wales started the game in the ascendency but couldn’t break down the Czech Republics’ backline. Despite enjoying the greater share of possession, Wales struggled to conjure clear-cut chances.
The attacking duo of Gareth Bale and Daniel James was given very little space to utilise their pace, restricting Wales to passing the ball sideways and making little inroad towards goal.
However, Daniel James came to Wales' rescue by scoring the crucial winner with just eight minutes to go. The Manchester United winger rose highest to head home a delightful cross from his strike partner Gareth Bale.
It has been a difficult season for James. But he been in a rich vein of form before the international break, and his goal against the Czech Republic could be a key one.
Wales back in World Cup contention
After their disappointing defeat against Belgium, Wales’ return to winning ways puts them right back in contention to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
The Dragons have played a game less than Belgium and the Czech Republic and are just a point behind the latter in Group E. With a lot more games to be played, Wales' chances of qualifying are looking good.
"It was a massive result; we didn't get off to the best of starts against Belgium, so it was massively important to get the win," Wales captain Bale told Sky Sports after the game. We showed a lot of heart and desire to match a very physical team. It was very chaotic, especially second half, but we were ready and kept going until the end, and the most important thing is to get that winner.”
Caretaker Wales coach Robert Page has done a fine job, but the next step will be to produce consistent results. With the Euros approaching this summer, Wales will have sterner tests ahead. It remains to be seen if they rise up to the challenge.