Knowing that they faced a must-win showdown on foreign soil, Wales managed to keep alive their dreams of booking a spot at next year’s World Cup finals as they secured a 1-0 win against Estonia on Monday night.
Making an immediate return to winning ways after having to settle for that 2-2 draw out in the Czech Republic over the weekend, the Dragons just about scrapped through what was a stern test in Tallinn.
Signing off their October international run with four points from their back-to-back Group E contests this month, we have taken a look at the major talking points from Wales’ scrappy victory on the road.
Wales claw their way over the finish line
Left hugely frustrated last month as they had to settle for a 0-0 stalemate against Estonia in Cardiff, Robert Page’s side opened Monday’s showdown knowing that they couldn’t pass over on another opportunity.
However, despite missing a host of golden chances on home soil last month, the Dragons didn’t have to wait long to break the deadlock as Kieffer Moore poked his effort over the line with just 12 minutes on the clock.
Appearing to have taken the positives from Saturday’s 2-2 draw out in Prague, despite Danny Ward’s calamitous own goal costing them what would have been three crucial points, Page would have been desperate for his side to keep their foot on the gas.
Nevertheless, despite entering the break with 68% possession to their name, Wales failed to find any real stability, and questions were once again asked of a defence that has shown some frailties during qualifying.
While Page’s attacking line-up might have failed to lay down the marker that they would have been hoping for on foreign soil, the Dragons did manage to avoid what would have been a very public banana skin.
Moore saves the day
With no Gareth Bale in their squad this month, it was no secret that many in Wales’ camp were reliant on Moore to be their leading man battling it out up top.
While the 29-year-old might have endured a sluggish start to the 2021/22 campaign after recording just a single Championship goal for Cardiff so far, Moore certainly made his presence felt.
In the right place at the right time as he bundled what turned out to be the winner across the line after just 12 minutes, the one-time Wigan striker has been a real positive since Page took temporary charge.
Managing to record his first goal since this summer’s European Championships, Moore came close to adding his and Wales’ second as he saw his clever backheeled effort denied by Arsenal keeper Karl Jakob Hein.
Eventually having to depart in the second-half after suffering a nasty knock to his face from Märten Kuusk, the Cardiff man was a relentless runner and constantly worked the channels.
While it might just be Moore’s second goal for club and country this season, we will have to wait to see just how important it was.
Estonia feel hard done by
Shocking many across Europe last month as they managed to land what was a flattering 0-0 stalemate out in Cardiff, Estonia certainly had their chances of going one step further on Monday night.
Handing Wales what was a physical examination in Tallinn, Thomas Häberli’s side laid down an early marker as Taijo Teniste registered the game’s first shot on target after just 40 seconds – one of a handful of chances the home side created against an occasionally erratic Welsh outfit.
Adjusting well to a back five after their thumping defeat against the Czech’s earlier in the year, Estonia really gained a foothold in proceedings throughout the second-half.
Feeling like they at least deserved to leave with another point to show for their troubles, Erik Sorga came inches from levelling the scoreline as his glanced header flew just over Ward’s goal.
While Monday’s hosts might have long since seen any chance of securing a route out of Group E go up in smoke, they should take a string of positives from what was a rugged display.
Estonia: Hein (6), Teniste (5), Paskotsi (6), Taam (6), Kuusk (7), Pikk (6.5), Poom (7.5), Mets (6), Käit (5), Zenjov (7), Sorga (5.5)
Subs: Ojamaa (5), Sinyavskiy (5), Kallaste (N/A), Vastsuk (N/A), Kirss (N/A)
Wales: Ward (8), Mepham (6.5), Rodon (7.5), Ampadu (5), Roberts (6), Ramsey (6), Allen (6), Wilson (5.5), Thomas (7), James (5.5), Moore (8)
Subs: Harris (5), Gunter (N/A), Morrell (N/A), Johnson (N/A)
Goals: Moore 12′
Yellow Cards: Estonia: Kuusk, Käit, Pikk – Wales: Allen, Moore, Thomas, Wilson
Red Cards: N/A
Referee: Sandro Schärer
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