Wales will play in the Euro 2024 playoffs following a 1-1 draw with Turkey at Cardiff on an eventful night.
Neco Williams, who scored in the seventh minute for Wales and his third goal for them, gave hope that they might be able to close the gap of two points between themselves and Croatia.
Yusuf Yazici’s controversial penalty, awarded 20 minutes before the end of play – after Wales’ three better spot-kicks appeals were rejected – gave Turkey the share of spoils as well as the one point needed to win Group D.
Yazici’s equaliser did not make a difference in the final result, as Croatia maintained their end of the deal by defeating Armenia at home 1-0.
Wales will play in the March Play-offs, where they’ll face Finland, Iceland or Ukraine at home.
The draw for the semi-finals will be made on Thursday.
Wales lost their control over the outcome of Saturday’s match when they drew with Armenia. Their performance was just as bad as the final result.
Rob Page, the manager of Wales’ national team, reacted by making 3 changes. One was forced due to Chris Mepham being suspended. Luton’s Tom Lockyer made his first appearance in a competitive match for Wales since Sept. 2021.
Brennan Johnson, Nathan Broadhead and Wales were introduced after the makeweight assault in Yerevan.
Hakan Cahanoglu was out of the game due to illness. Vincenzo Montella, however, had already won three games as manager, including victories over Croatia and Germany.
Broadhead, who seized upon a mistake to curl wide of the left post in Yerevan, showed a Wales intensity which was lacking.
Harry Wilson, who was playing on the left side of the field at the time, found Williams.
Williams, who is a right-footed player by preference, cut in on the inside and found Ugurcan’s corner net with a perfect shot from 16 yards.
Turkey looked visibly shaken, as they lost Lockyer in a corner. They also let discipline slip by shoving each other when tempers were about to boil.
Wales made three penalties appeals during a nine minute period of frantic activity.
Wilson was knocked down by Abdulkerim Bardakci in a leg tangle, and Johnson fell to the ground after a Samet Akaydin slide tackle. The defender had not made contact with the football.
Akaydin flattened Johnson in the goalmouth from behind, a challenge that somehow missed the attention of the Slovenian referee Matej Jug as well as VAR.
Altay Bayindir, the goalkeeper of Manchester United’s team was sent in to replace Cakir. Three minutes before half-time Kerem Akturkoglu scored the first Turkey goal.
Bayindir had to be forced into action by Johnson who showed a lot more energy than in his mediocre second half performance against Armenia.
After the half-time break, Johnson made another long stretch stop at Bayindir. However, Turkey could have equalized after 58 mins.
Akaydin, who was standing six yards away from the Akturkoglu corner, planted a header at Danny Ward’s Wales goal.
Ethan Ampadu’s header was held back by Bayindir, before Turkey equalised under contentious circumstances.
Ben Davies’ foul on Kenan Yildiz was ruled as a soft call, which Yazici seized upon in a nonchalant manner. This was the first Turkey goal against Wales in four matches.
Yusuf Sari slid the crossbar of Wales and Johnson put the ball into the goal from an offside position.
At the end of the match, there were numerous yellow cards and heated scenes.
Wales’ unbeaten streak now stands at six matches, but this will not be enough to make up for the fact that they missed out on automatic qualification.