Wales 3-1 Finland: Harry Wilson, Dan James and Kieffer Moore on target as hosts earn promotion

Match report and highlights as Wales rise to League A in the Nations League courtesy of victory over Finland; Teemu Pukki reduced deficit after Harry Wilson and Dan James strikes but Kieffer Moore seals win

@Ben_Islington

Wednesday 18 November 2020 22:04, UK

Wales sealed promotion to League A of the UEFA Nations League after seeing off 10-man Finland 3-1 at the Cardiff City Stadium.

Jere Uronen was dismissed after just 12 minutes for hauling back Harry Wilson as the last defender, and Wales made their numerical advantage count when Wilson collected Gareth Bale’s pass to shoot beyond Lukas Hradecky (29).

Dan James’ thunderbolt moments after the restart extended Wales’ lead (46) before Teemu Pukki’s 27th international goal gave the Finns a glimmer of hope.

But Kieffer Moore headed in James’ deep cross to ensure Wales ended their Nations League campaign unbeaten as Group B4 winners – crucially earning them a World Cup 2022 play-off place if required.

Player ratings

Wales: D. Ward (7), C. Roberts (7), Mepham (7), Rodon (7), J. Lawrence (6), Norrington-Davies (8), Ampadu (6), Morrell (8), James (9), Wilson (8), Bale (7).

Subs: Gunter (n/a), T. Lawrence (6), Brooks (n/a), T. Roberts (n/a), Moore (6).

Finland: Hradecky (7), Arajuuri (6), Toivio (6), Kamara (7), Lod (7), Uronen (5), Alho (6), Schuller (6), O’Shaughnessy (5), Taylor (6), Pukki (7).

Subs: Forss (n/a), Soiri (6), Valakari (5), Niskanen (6), Hamalainen (6).

Man of the match: Daniel James.

Wales break new ground

It was April 1987 the last time Wales beat Finland on home soil – a 4-0 win in Wrexham – but the current crop continue to reach new heights.

Trending

Having qualified for next summer’s European Championships a day shy of precisely 12 months ago, victory over Finland means they have now recorded their all-time longest run without defeat in competitive matches, 11 games stretching back to the defeat in Hungary in June 2019.

Finland arrived in Cardiff boasting the most number of UEFA Nations League wins (eight) despite scoring just 11 goals in the competition but needing another if they were to earn promotion to League A.

  • How Wales and Finland lined up | Match stats
  • Nations League table | Fixtures | Results
  • Watch every Nations League game on Sky Sports
  • Get two football channels for £18 p/m | All Sky Sports’ new season offers

But Markku Kanerva’s side – a week on from their impressive 2-0 friendly win away to France – were reduced to 10 men after only 12 minutes.

Danny Ward’s goal-kick caught the visitors napping and Uronen stopped Wilson’s run on goal, with Spanish referee Jesus Gil Manzano immediately brandishing a red card.

Team news

Gareth Bale wore the armband as Wales made three changes. Connor Roberts replaced Neco Williams, James Lawrence came in for the suspended Ben Davies and David Brooks made way for Harry Wilson from the 1-0 win over the
Republic of Ireland that had kept them top of Group B4.

Finland needed to win to deny Wales promotion to the top tier of the Nations League and were without suspended skipper Tim Sparv and striker Joel Pohjanpalo, who broke an ankle during Sunday’s 2-1 win in Bulgaria.

Wales assistant coach Robert Page, stepping in once more for Ryan Giggs, encouraged his players to make their extra man count and goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky was extended to deny Rhys Norrington-Davies before brilliantly denying Bale from close range.

But Wales grabbed a 29th-minute lead when the Tottenham forward slipped a clever pass into the path of Wilson and the on-loan Cardiff forward finished in style for his fourth international goal.

Wales changed their system at half-time with centre-forward Moore replacing defender Lawrence, and the lead was doubled within seconds of the restart.

Moore made a nuisance of himself and Joe Morrell laid the ball off to Daniel James, who claimed his third Wales goal in stunning fashion from 20 yards.

Bale was withdrawn just after the hour mark with Wales seemingly in cruise control. But Pukki reduced the deficit almost immediately when finding space on the right-hand side of the Wales penalty area after 63 minutes.

It was the first goal Wales had conceded in 774 minutes of competitive football. Wales calmed any nerves six minutes from time when Moore’s close-range header from a James cross gave Hradecky no chance. It was job done.

Opta stats

  • Wales are unbeaten in their last 11 competitive matches (W8 D3), their longest such run without defeat in their history.
  • Since back to back defeats in 2018, Wales are unbeaten in their last 10 matches (W8 D2) on home soil – their longest ever run at home without losing.
  • Finland have lost back-to-back games against Wales for the first time since their first two encounters in 1971.
  • Wales have scored three goals in a game for the first time in 23 matches, since a 4-1 victory against Republic of Ireland in September 2018.

What’s next?

The draw for the European section of 2022 World Cup qualifying will take place in Zurich on December 7, with the first round of matches taking place on March 24/25 during the next international break.

Source: Read Full Article