Wales gave their hopes of qualifying for Euro 2024 a massive boost on Sunday evening, beating Croatia 2-1 at the Cardiff City Stadium.
A Harry Wilson double early in the second half put Cymru in command in a match the hosts had to win to keep their chances of qualifying automatically for the tournament in Germany alive. If they are to qualify automatically, it will now come at Croatia’s expense.
Fulham attacker Wilson, celebrating his 50th cap on the night, dovetailed brilliantly with David Brooks throughout their time on the pitch and the pair combined to set Wilson through after half time. Wilson’s neat dink over Dominik Livakovic gave the hosts the lead, and he soon doubled their advantage with a smart glancing header from a Dan James cross.
Mario Pasalic’s header made matters tense for the final 15 minutes plus added time but Wales held on for a deserved win.
Robert Page’s side have made difficult work of their group to date, with a particularly damaging home defeat to Armenia in June leaving them with a mountain to climb. Results have left them needing to win their final three matches to qualify automatically, though they do in all likelihood have a route to fall back on via the playoffs.
Victory over Croatia leaves Wales second in the group on ten points after six group matches, with two games remaining. They sit level on points with Croatia, but crucially ahead of them via head-to-head results (Wales drew 1-1 in Split earlier in the group) with the two sides now battling it out for a second automatic qualification place for Germany.
Group leaders Turkey have qualified for the tournament next summer following a 4-0 win over Latvia.
Wales visit Armenia next month and then host Turkey in a final, crucial group game, knowing that two wins from their last two games will take them to Germany.