Wales end World Cup party with victory in Cardiff

Soccer Football – UEFA Nations League – Group D – Wales v Netherlands – Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff, Wales, Britain – June 8, 2022 Dutch players celebrate after the match Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra

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CARDIFF, June 8 (Reuters) – Second-tier Netherlands beat Wales 2-1 away after a dramatic late Nations League final on Wednesday, bringing the hosts back to earth after securing qualification for the World Cup this weekend.

Wout Weghorst won the game for the Dutch, scoring with a header four minutes after stoppage time, just after Wales appeared to have snatched a late draw when Rhys Norrington-Davies scored two minutes into the break time.

Teun Koopmeiners opened the scoring five minutes into the second half to put the visitors ahead, after manager Louis van Gaal changed his entire squad from the side that opened their campaign from Group Four of the Ligue A with a 4-1 against neighboring Belgium last Friday. .

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Wales also rested some of their senior members after securing a World Cup berth for the first time in 64 years by beating Ukraine 1-0 on Sunday, allowing fringe players to claim selection in the team bound for Qatar.

Despite looking the brighter of the two teams in the first half, Wales were caught early in the second when Koopmeiners found a pocket of space to fire home from the edge of the area with his weaker right foot after being set up by debutant Jerdy Schouten.

The Dutch had only one chance in the first 45 minutes, on the stroke of half-time, when Cody Gakpo’s shot was deflected for a corner by Chris Mepham.

Before that, Wales’ Harry Wilson hit the target with a free kick but his effort was denied by Dutch goalkeeper Mark Flekken.

Welsh talisman Gareth Bale made an appearance in the final quarter but it was Norrington-Davies who rose powerfully at the far post to equalize at home.

Yet almost from the kick-off, Frenkie de Jong surged at the start of a move that ended with Weghorst diving to head home with a dramatic winner.

“It was a fantastic counter but we were sloppy in the first half, we lost a lot of possession so we couldn’t attack. But I still say we have a great team,” Van said. Gaal on Dutch NOS television after the game.

Wales have now lost both games of the new Nations League campaign following their defeat in Poland a week ago and also saw a record 19 home unbeaten ties end in inauspicious fashion.

Wednesday’s win extended the Netherlands’ 100 per cent record against Wales to nine matches and put them top of the Nations League group.

The Dutch next host Poland in Rotterdam on Saturday when Wales host Belgium.

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Written by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Toby Davis

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