- Wales’ hope of qualifying automatically for EURO 2024 suffered a devastating blow following the 1-1 draw at Armenia on Saturday
- Wales must now beat Group D leaders Turkey on Tuesday and hope that Croatia drop points against Armenia on the same day if they are to qualify
Wales’ hope of qualifying automatically for EURO 2024 suffered a devastating blow following the 1-1 draw at Armenia on Saturday. Wales started the game knowing that winning their last two games would ensure qualification, but trailed after just five minutes.
Lucas Zelarayan put the hosts in front with a shot from the edge of the box after Wales failed to properly clear a corner. Wales found their way back into the match in first-half stoppage time after Nair Tiknizyan’s own goal restored parity.
However, they created little in the second half and Armenia looked the more likely team to win. The game eventually ended 1-1, with the draw doing no good for either team as far as joining already-qualified Turkey in the top two of Group D is concerned.
Wales must now beat Group D leaders Turkey on Tuesday and hope that Croatia drop points against Armenia on the same day if they are to qualify for the tournament in Germany. Wales coach Robert Page believes his side are capable of securing victory against Turkey despite failing to defeat Armenia.
“Unfortunately it’s now out of our control. With a win, we’d all have been buzzing and looking forward to the game on Tuesday and a [further] win would have seen us qualify. It’s not materialized as we’d like but that’s life and we have to get on with it… We can only control what we can do, get the players in the right frame of mind, mentally and physically ready for Tuesday.” Tribal Football quotes Robert Page.
If Wales suffer defeat against Turkey and fail to finish among the top two in Group D, they will almost certainly have the back-up option of the play-offs in March.
How The Game Unfolded
Wales, who had a score to settle, were unchanged for their crunch Euro 2024 qualifier against Armenia in Yerevan. Tottenham forward Brennan Johnson, who missed last month’s 2-1 win over Croatia through injury was available on Saturday night.
On the other hand, Armenia’s line-up featured nine of the players who started in Cardiff, including Grant-Leon Ranos and Zelarayan who both scored twice then.
Wales knew they needed to beat Armenia and Turkey at home on Tuesday to secure qualification for Euro 2024 in Germany next summer. But it was Armenia who started the game well and their efforts paid off when they got on the scoreboard first after just five minutes of play.
Lucas Zelarayan, who scored twice against Wales last time, picked where he left by scoring the opener in Yerevan. The 31-year-old forward unleashed a superb strike from the edge of the box that went through a crowded goalmouth into the bottom corner. This was after the visitors failed to properly clear a corner.
Wales almost responded immediately, but David Brooks’ side footed effort whistled over the bar. Harry Wilson also came close to scoring but his curling effort that was destined for the net was met with a fine save from Ognjen Cancarevic.
Wales continued to probe for the rest of the first half and their efforts bore fruits when Nair Tiknizyan headed a long-throw into his own net on the stroke of half-time.
Armenia were the dominant side after the break and almost regained their lead on the hour-mark but Zelarayan volleyed harmlessly over from six yards after pouncing on Vahan Bichakhchyan’s effort that hit the post. Eduard Spertsyan had a clear sight of goal before being denied by one of an increasing number of last-gasp blocks from Wales.
There was frustration from the home fans, but nothing quite like the despair felt by Wales fans when the referee blew his whistle to signal the end of the match.