Wales’ chances of automatically qualifying for Euro 2024 have been shattered by the 1-1 draw with Armenia.
Lucas Zelarayan returned to haunt Wales with an opener in the fifth minute before Nair Tiknizyan’s own goal at first half stoppage time brought Wales level.
Both sides are equally qualified to join Turkey, which is already in the top 2.
If Croatia wins their last two matches, even a win over Turkey on Tuesday in Cardiff would not suffice for Wales.
Wales can still qualify for the play-offs in March if Croatia wins those matches.
Armenian chances to finish in the top two are virtually over barring Croatia’s collapse.
Wales needed to make amends with Armenia for their 4-2 humiliating defeat at Cardiff in Cardiff, five months earlier. This result left Wales playing catch up in the race to qualify for the next tournament in Germany.
Rob Page had also to change the course of history, as Wales hadn’t beaten Armenia at all in their three previous encounters.
Wales remained unchanged from last month’s side which produced a stunning 2-1 victory over World Cup Semi-finalists Croatia.
Brennan Johnson, who had just scored his first Spurs’ goal, was forced to sit on the sidelines due to an injury.
Armenia, ranked 95th in the world (and 67 places lower than Wales), showed nine of the players who won the Cardiff Cup in June. These included Grant-Leon Ranos as well Zelarayan. Both scored two goals.
Wales fell behind after five minutes of failing to handle a corner.
Danny Ward paused as Joe Rodon’s looping header went towards Zelarayan. Zelarayan shifted the football onto his right leg and finished the goal with pinpoint accuracy.
David Brooks scored in response and Neco William saw his shot deflected after Kieffer had taken advantage of a mistake at home.
Moore’s header was wide, but Wales generally were unable to sustain their attacks. Armenia, on the other hand is a dangerous counter-attacker.
Vahan Bichakhchyan missed a shot by a few millimeters from such a raid. Wales also suffered – Chris Mepham was sent off for his challenge against Zelarayan, which resulted in he being given ‘yellow card’ and ruled out of the Turkey match.
After 37 minutes, Wales came close to scoring when Williams pushed the ball into Harry Wilson’s path. Goalkeeper Ognjen cancarevic had his full effort on him in order to make a save.
Just seconds before the half-time break, Connor Roberts sent a long ball and Tiknizyan headed in his own goal under Rodon’s pressure.
Johnson took over from Brooks after three minutes. The contest had a spicy element as Varazdat haroyan was cautioned by the referee for cutting down Wilson, and Ethan Ampadu received a similar punishment for reacting to that challenge.
Bichakhchyan, who scored the only goal for Armenia in the first half of the match, was a close call as his chip sailed over Ward’s head and into the crossbar.
Zelarayan appeared to be certain of burying the rebound, but the best player in the match sliced it.
Jordan James tested Cancarevic from the outside of the box and it took a second try to collect.
Eduard Spertsyan was denied by the latest of a growing number of Welsh last-gasp blocks.
Cancarevic held Moore’s head and Ward made a superb stop in the frantic final to prevent Edgar Sevikyan from scoring. Sevikyan shot over with the goal right at his fingertips.