Wales 0-0 Estonia: Wales dealt severe blow in bid to qualify for 2022 World Cup

Last update on.From section Football
Tyler Roberts, forward for Leeds United, was close to scoring a goal for Wales in the first half

After a disappointing draw against Estonia, Wales' chances of automatic qualification for the 2022 World Cup are now nil.

Although there was a celebratory atmosphere at Cardiff City Stadium, which hosted an international match for the first time since 2019, Wales did not live up to its potential.

Estonia, which was ranked 110th in world rankings and won in Group E, came close to scoring in the first period when Mattias Kait crossed the goal line.

Wales had many chances to score after the break. However, Gareth Bale, Tyler Roberts and Estonia's young Arsenal goalkeeper Karl Hein denied them both. Bale also missed the post.

Wales is now nine points behind group leaders Belgium. Robert Page's team has played two fewer games than the others, but they still need to win all remaining matches (November's home match against Belgium included) and hope that the top-ranked side drops points before then.

The play-offs look now like Wales' best realistic way to win the first World Cup since 1958.

Their success in the Nations League has effectively ensured them a place in the play-offs. However, finishing second in the World Cup qualifying group could guarantee Wales a more favorable draw in the knockout stage.

The draw with Estonia kept Wales third in Group A, just behind the Czech Republic and second on goal difference. They also had played one less game.

Many people might have expected that the play-offs would be their best chance of winning the World Cup after Wales was drawn with Belgium and the Czech Republic.

However, no one would have imagined a match at home against Estonia as a possible stumbling block.

This was a terrible result against a team that had lost all three of its previous qualifiers and conceded fifteen goals.

Wales was warned after they had just three days ago been exposed to the threat posed in the Fifa world rankings by people significantly lower than themselves.

They trailed Belarus by 2-1 on Sunday before Gareth Bale saved the day. He completed a hat trick deep into extra time to secure a dramatic win of 3-2.

Before losing to Belarus, Wales actually had an early lead. There was also a sense of déjà vu as they lost another promising start against Estonia.

Wales was energized by the cheering fans and quickly got ahead. After just 40 seconds, right-back Chris Gunter surged forward and crossed low for Harry Wilson. Harry Wilson's first side-footed shot was wide.

Dan James and Michael Lilander of Estonia battle for the ball

As Wales advanced, there were chances for Roberts and Bale. However, Estonia gained confidence once the attacks stopped.

The away team were happy to defend in large numbers. Kait, who was curling from 20 yards, cut the top of the bar as the first period came to an end.

Wales was lacking creativity in open play, but it had set-pieces. A Ben Davies free-kick reached Bale and Bale's header was brilliantly saved by Hein.

Roberts was unable to capitalize on the rare occasion that Wales managed to break through the Estonian defense with Joe Morrell's fine through ball. Hein blocked Roberts' low attempt.

As their situation became more dire, it looked like they would need to rely on Bale for inspiration. Hein saved his prodded shot with seven minutes remaining, before Real Madrid forward headed the rebound against a post.

If Danny Ward hadn't made a huge late save to deny Estonian captain Konstantin Vassiljev, it might have been worse.

Wales' defeat was no consolation. Their players looked dejected as they thought about one of the most disappointing home competitive matches of recent years.