Wales held Belgium to an exhilarating 1-1 draw to secure second place in World Cup qualifying Group E and a seed in the 2022 Qatar play-offs draw.
Kieffer Moore’s eighth international goal and a strong defensive display against the world’s No.1 football nation saw Wales cross the finish line after Kevin de Bruyne’s first game on a night of drama and emotion at Cardiff City Stadium.
Although they had already secured a place for the play-offs next March thanks to their Nations League results, finishing second in the group means Wales avoid Portugal and Italy in the most favorable camp of the draw for the semi-finals.
Wales, which are two games away from qualifying for the World Cup finals for the first time since 1958, could have ended Belgium’s 27 games unbeaten in the World Cup qualifiers, but a stunning save by Koen Casteels prevented Neco Williams from scoring a superb winner.
The draw was a fitting final in an encouraging 2021 for Rob Page and Wales, who await their fate for the World Cup qualifiers in the draw on November 26.
How do play-offs work?
The play-offs are a mini-tournament with 12 teams whose last three European places will be allocated. They will include the 10 finalists from the qualifying group and two teams based on the Nations League rankings. The 12 teams will be seeded and split into three pots of four, each of which will host their own (one-legged) semi-finals and a final on March 24 and 29 respectively. The winners of the three finals will advance to Qatar. The draw for these matches will take place on November 26. Scotland already know they will be seeded, which means a home semi-final. Italy, Poland, Portugal and Sweden are among the other teams ahead of the play-offs.
- Wales finished in the top two of a World Cup qualifying group for the first time since qualifying for the 1966 World Cup when they finished second (only first place teams qualified this year).
- Belgium are undefeated in their last 28 World Cup qualifiers (W23, D5), the second longest current unbeaten streak behind England (31), that streak starting with a 2-0 away win in Wales in September 2012.
- Wales are undefeated in their last 16 home games in all competitions (11 v, 5 n), since losing 2-1 to Denmark in the UEFA Nations League in November 2018.
- Kevin De Bruyne has been directly involved in 24 goals in his last 19 appearances in all competitions for Belgium (8 goals, 16 assists).
- 11 of Kevin De Bruyne’s last 15 goals for Belgium in all competitions have come from outside the box.
- Since making his international debut in September 2019, Kieffer Moore has scored more goals in all competitions than any other Welsh player (8).
Wales look forward to the World Cup play-off draw on November 26, 2021, where they will learn their fate and who will stand between them and a place at Qatar 2022.
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