Wales 1-1 Croatia

Bruno Petkovic (R) collides with Ethan Ampadu

Gareth Bale’s excellent equaliser helped Wales to hold 2018 World Cup finalists Croatia in a bad-tempered contest in Cardiff.

The Real Madrid forward’s composed finish in injury time in the first half ensured Wales maintained their eight-year unbeaten run in home European Championship qualifiers, a record that has extended to 10 matches.

The Wales goal cancelled out Nikola Vlasic’s opener on nine minutes as the former Everton man found the net with a shot that hit the inside of the post.

The result means Wales’ destiny is no longer in their own hands in Group E, as they are now relying on Slovakia dropping points in their remaining two fixtures, while Wales will need to claim six points from their final two games in Azerbaijan and at home to Hungary.

Should Wales and Slovakia finish level on points, Wales would qualify by virtue of their better head to head record.

Croatia remain top of Group E on the cusp of qualifying for Euro 2020, while Wales remain fourth, though they know that the Nations League could yet offer them a backdoor route to the play-offs if they fail to finish second.

Wales miss Ramsey on night of heavy challenges

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Wales supporters have in the past expressed disappointment at the perception that Ryan Giggs was often unavailable for his country in his playing days, but he is having rotten luck in terms of dealing with injuries as manager.

Not many would dispute that Bale and Aaron Ramsey are Giggs’ key players and senior figures, yet Ramsey has not played a second of the 630 minutes of Group E action that Wales have competed in.

Ramsey did not play for Arsenal last term after 18 April because of an abductor injury and despite featuring five times for new club Juventus this season, a flare-up of the same injury prevented him from travelling to Slovakia and from training intensely enough to be considered to feature against Croatia.

His absence, however, did at least allow Giggs to name an unchanged line-up for the first time in competitive matches during his 17-game tenure as the national team boss.

The lack of Ramsey was especially pivotal in a game where the opposition have such exceptional talent in midfield, as England found out painfully in last year’s World Cup semi-final.

Croatia’s talent in the middle of the pitch is such that even with Inter Milan’s Marcelo Brozovic suspended, they were still able to leave out Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic, who came on as a half-time substitute.

That talent and Croatia’s ability to keep the ball was evident from the early stages and the visitors scored with their first attack as they cut the Wales defence to shreds with a quick break.

Nikola Vlasic of Croatia celebrates

Josip Brekalo advanced and Wales did not close down the space as he freed Bruno Petkovic, who cleverly laid the ball into the path of Vlasic and he precisely fired home via the inside of the post.

A heavy collision between Domagoj Vida and Daniel James gave Wales even more to fret about, with James remaining on the field, but looking groggy after a heavy landing.

The challenge was almost exactly replicated after the interval when Petkovic crashed into Ethan Ampadu who landed awkwardly. It was something of a surprise the match finished with 22 players on the field.

The challenge on Ampadu saw Petkovic booked – he was one of eight – but arguably the punishment could have been stronger for a late arrival that would have most likely resulted in a red at the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Ampadu could not continue while James at least looked to be fully recovered in the second half, though he shot at the near post when he should have fired across goal with Wales’ first foray forward after half time. Dominik Livakovic was able to smother at the second attempt.

Right-back Tin Jedvaj fired just over in the second half, but Croatia largely had plenty of possession without looking like finding a winner.

Davies the creator as he wins golden cap

Wales’ difficult start could have been even worse on 12 minutes but Wayne Hennessey saved Ivan Perisic’s flicked header after Petkovic’s inviting cross was misjudged by Ben Davies.

It was a tough moment for Davies as he celebrated becoming the 41st Wales player to reach 50 caps.

Still feeling his way back from summer hernia surgery and currently playing second fiddle at Tottenham Hotspur to Danny Rose, Davies picked the perfect moment to ignite his season with a brilliant assist for Bale’s leveller in first-half stoppage time.

The left-back rampaged forward and just got his foot to the ball as Mateo Kovacic looked for a free kick that never arrived.

Davies keept his composure to slide a pass into the penalty area. The delivery was perfectly weighted for Bale, who collected brilliantly to settle himself and shoot across Livakovic into the bottom corner of the net.

It was a night where clear chances were at a premium and Wales could not afford to over-commit in pursuit of a winner in a tense second half.

The night ended on a slight note of disappointment for Wales with Joe Allen receiving a late yellow card that will mean he is suspended in Azerbaijan, but they deserve credit for containing Croatia.


Gareth Bale celebrates

Bale continues to inspire an entire nation as he hits top form in the environment where he feels comfortable and appreciated. Scored a classic Bale goal and always gave Croatia a cause for concern until he limped through the last few minutes with Giggs later citing cramp as the Real Madrid star’s problem.



  • 1Hennessey
  • 14Roberts
  • 16Lockyer
  • 5Rodon
  • 4Davies
  • 15AmpaduSubstituted forMorrellat 50′minutes
  • 11Bale
  • 7AllenBooked at 86mins
  • 17WilliamsSubstituted forH Wilsonat 68′minutes
  • 20JamesBooked at 90mins
  • 13MooreBooked at 57minsSubstituted forRobertsat 86′minutes


  • 2Gunter
  • 3Taylor
  • 6Williams
  • 8Roberts
  • 9Vokes
  • 10H Wilson
  • 12Ward
  • 18Morrell
  • 19Lawrence
  • 21Davies
  • 22Matondo
  • 23Vaulks


  • 1Livakovic
  • 16Jedvaj
  • 6LovrenBooked at 45mins
  • 21VidaBooked at 14mins
  • 3Barisic
  • 10ModricBooked at 89minsSubstituted forBadeljat 90′minutes
  • 8KovacicSubstituted forRakiticat 45′minutesBooked at 85mins
  • 4Perisic
  • 13Vlasic
  • 17Brekalo
  • 20PetkovicBooked at 46minsSubstituted forRebicat 64′minutes


  • 2Melnjak
  • 5Peric
  • 7Rakitic
  • 9Orsic
  • 11Bradaric
  • 12L Kalinic
  • 14Skoric
  • 15Pasalic
  • 18Rebic
  • 19Badelj
  • 22Bartolec
  • 23Sluga
Björn Kuipers

Match Stats

Home TeamWalesAway TeamCroatia
Shots on Target

Live Text

Match ends, Wales 1, Croatia 1.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Wales 1, Croatia 1.


Daniel James (Wales) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Tin Jedvaj (Croatia) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Daniel James (Wales).

Foul by Ivan Perisic (Croatia).

Tyler Roberts (Wales) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt missed. Ivan Rakitic (Croatia) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Borna Barisic.


Substitution, Croatia. Milan Badelj replaces Luka Modric.


Luka Modric (Croatia) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Attempt blocked. Connor Roberts (Wales) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Tyler Roberts.


Substitution, Wales. Tyler Roberts replaces Kieffer Moore.


Joe Allen (Wales) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Josip Brekalo (Croatia) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Joe Allen (Wales).


Ivan Rakitic (Croatia) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Ivan Rakitic (Croatia).

Harry Wilson (Wales) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Luka Modric (Croatia) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Kieffer Moore (Wales).

Ante Rebic (Croatia) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Joe Morrell (Wales).

Foul by Nikola Vlasic (Croatia).

Harry Wilson (Wales) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt missed. Gareth Bale (Wales) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by Daniel James.

Attempt missed. Tin Jedvaj (Croatia) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses the top left corner. Assisted by Nikola Vlasic.

Foul by Ivan Perisic (Croatia).

Harry Wilson (Wales) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Domagoj Vida (Croatia) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Kieffer Moore (Wales).


Substitution, Wales. Harry Wilson replaces Jonathan Williams.

Ivan Perisic (Croatia) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Joe Allen (Wales).

Foul by Tin Jedvaj (Croatia).

Daniel James (Wales) wins a free kick in the defensive half.


Substitution, Croatia. Ante Rebic replaces Bruno Petkovic.

Corner, Croatia. Conceded by Joe Rodon.

Luka Modric (Croatia) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Connor Roberts (Wales).


Kieffer Moore (Wales) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.


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