27 Jun 2022 | 08:22 | Football
Wales will have to prepare for Sunday’s crucial World Cup play-off final after starting their Nations League campaign with a 2-1 win over Poland on Sunday.
A stunning second-half goal from Jonny Williams gave Wales hope of a first win over Poland in 49 years, but Thomas Kaminsky’s equaliser and Carol Swiedski’s winner turned around in the final 18 minutes the situation.
Rob Page omits Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Ben Day from Wroclaw matchday squad as a career-defining match against Scotland or Ukraine looms Weiss, the trio watched as Wales put on an exhilarating performance, but fell short.
But the Welsh defeat also had a positive side – namely the silence of Polish dangerous Robert Lewandowski in the meantime – and these had to be exploited before they returned to Cardiff, where they hoped to secure a place in the A place in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, and their first world cup final since 1958.
Wales manager Robert Page has admitted his team selection for the Nations League opening game has been influenced by this weekend’s World Cup play-off final.
“I’m not excluding anyone because of injury issues,” he said. “I let the players I give up purely because we have a game on Sunday.
“There was a group practice today and I had the substitutions planned before the game. The plan was in place. I didn’t need to risk Aaron, Gareth, Ben, Joe, it didn’t do any good.
“They’ve done the controlled sessions they need to get them ready for Sunday. I’ve made sure they’re in the dressing room. They’ve had a huge impact on that group and I hope they’re there.
“Even at half-time, I want them to be a part of it, they’re the last ones in the door.”
It was Wales’ first game in the top flight of the Nations League after qualifying two years ago.
Belgium and the Netherlands have completed the group stage and Page is delighted that his team will take on Poland four days before the World Cup final date in Cardiff.
Poland should have taken the lead when Mateusz Klich’s cross found Napoli midfielder Piotr Zielinski unmarked in the Welsh area, but he unforgivably delivered a gilded header that went wide.
Wales made the most of their reprieve in an open and entertaining first period as Dylan Levitt’s rough kick forced Polish keeper Kamil Grabala to make his first save and lively Wes Burns would deflect The volley went wide and Robert Lewandowski flanked to force a save from Welsh stopper Danny Ward’s leg.
Both sides squandered their chances to take the lead before half-time, with Daniel James doing all the hard work in the Polish area to break out before Adam Buksa came home inches from Timothus Pchatz’s cross. distance.
Focusing on Sunday, Page kept James and Kiefer Moore out at half-time from Mark Harris and Rabbi Mortondo, who nearly grabbed his first international goal in four minutes on the pitch, Just saw his low-firing gun fall off Grabara’s lap.
Wales made the breakthrough in the 52nd minute, with Williams’ stunning shot from the edge of the box into the far corner, left keeper Grabala and the Wroclaw crowd stunned, but maintaining the advantage was too much of a task for the visitors.
After Lewandowski’s rare missed shot, Kaminsky showed his illustrious team-mate how to finish the game, exploiting the indecisive Welshman’s defence to put a crisp low shot into the far corner.
There has only been one winner since then as Polish crowds roared their side into a thrilling finale when Swedski tied the ball to the Wales goal despite Chris Mepalm at the goal line I tried my best but still found a late winner.
Matt Smith volleyed in stoppage time as Wales missed a chance to grab the final point, but with Sunday’s epic play-off now in focus, there was little time to ponder it.
welsh boss grab page Said: “This is the way we want it. We want this fixture first. It gives us the opportunity to give DJ (Daniel James) some time – he wants to play – Keefer (Moore) needs some time and Nico Williams needs some time.
“It was a productive practice. We knew it was going to be a battle but I couldn’t be more proud of these players. It was a strong Polish team and it was the best XI they could use.
“If you’re going to lose a football game, lose like that. We took the lead and I think we deserved a point. The second goal was scrappy; it deflected twice and fell to him Four yards out, of course he’ll score.
“We could have made some small adjustments to stop him from going into that position, but I think we played well.
“A guy like Marty Smith, he doesn’t play football every week, but he’s playing like that, I can go through all of it. Dylan Levitt, Joe Morrell, Wes Burns, that’s him ‘s debut, I thought he was outstanding.
“Joniesta (Jonny Williams) can also score goals, which is great, there are a lot of positives.”
So close to Wales’ first World Cup in 64 years, Page said: “We’ll get to work right away. We’ll be in the boardroom (Thursday), going through it and making plans to make history.”
polish boss Cheslaw Michnevic Said: “The opponents have a different formation. They have defenders on both sides of the pitch and they play fast.
“Welsh players have a lot of possession so we have to change our formation. Three points (in this group) are not enough. The last game will be against Wales again and they will play with the best teams.”
Wales will host Scotland or Ukraine in the World Cup qualifier play-off final at 5pm on Sunday – live on Sky Sports.
The Nations League resumption sees Wales host the Netherlands and Poland travel to Belgium at 7.45pm on Wednesday.