Estonia 0-1 Wales: Goalkeeper Danny Ward atones for Czech howler with vital saves as visitors stand firm after Kieffer Moore tap in to boost World Cup play-off hopes
- Wales scraped past Estonia with an unconvincing win in Tallinn
- Kieffer Moore poked in from a yard out to give the visitors a 1-0 half-time lead
- Wales keeper Danny Ward Ward kept out Vlasiy Sinyavskiy’s curling effort late on
Wales have treated their supporters to some memorable moments in the last five years but if they can beat Belgium in Cardiff next month it may just top the lot.
Kieffer Moore’s first-half goal was enough to seal victory in a bruising encounter in Estonia but with Belgium virtually secure of top spot, Wales are likely to need to avoid defeat to the World Cup semi-finalists to beat the Czech Republic to second spot in the group and claim a favourable play-off draw for Qatar 2022.
The performances of Rob Page’s side in the Nations League means they are virtually certain of a play-off place but this route alone would likely mean a more difficult tie. That is why boss Rob Page is desperate for a repeat of Wales’ famous win over Belgium in the Euro 2016 quarter-finals when they meet on November 16.
Kieffer Moore’s early goal ensured Wales collected three points in Tallinn
Wales (3-5-2): Ward 6; Mepham 5.5, Rodon 6.5, Ampadu 6; C Roberts 6.5 (Gunter 83), *RAMSEY 7* (Morrell 80), Allen 6.5 Wilson 5.5 (Johnson 83), Thomas 6; James 6, Moore 6.5 (Harris 71, 6).
Subs not used: Hennessey, Davies, N Williams, Lawrence, T Roberts, J Williams, Vaulks, Cabango.
Scorers: Moore 12
Booked: Wilson, Thomas, Moore, Allen
Manager: Rob Page 6
‘Bring it on,’ said Page when asked about Roberto Martinez’s side, before adding hurriedly that they must also beat Belarus in the Welsh capital three days earlier. ‘We can’t wait. We have a good record against them and this sets it up nicely.
‘We know we’re pretty much certain of a play-off place whatever happens so this means we can take more of a gamble in our approach to these games.’
Page is confident captain Gareth Bale, who missed these games with a hamstring injury, will be fit to win his 100th cap in next month’s double-header, though Wales must take on Belarus without their match-winner in Tallinn. If they can have Bale and Aaron Ramsey for both games, however, that will be excellent compensation.
Moore picked up a booking in the second half which will bring a one-match ban – a source of huge frustration for Page, who felt his centre-forward was treated harshly.
The Cardiff striker was taken off with 20 minutes remaining after a flailing arm from Estonia defender Marten Kuusk left him briefly unable to see from his left eye. Kuusk escaped with a yellow card.
Despite his impressive form for Wales, Moore’s physical style often leaves him on the wrong side of the officials.
‘I’m devastated he got the booking,’ said Page. ‘He deserved the goal and he doesn’t get a lot of protection at times.
Moore was struck in the face in a challenge in the box that left the striker with a bloody nose
‘When you jump, you have to use your arms. Unless referees have played at any level of the game and understand the mechanics of how you jump, it’s difficult.
‘But we want all our best players available [for the Belgium game] and at this stage we are confident we will have Gareth Bale.’
Wales rarely reached the level of attacking play they showed in drawing 2-2 in the Czech Republic last Friday but the 12th minute strike from Moore was enough. He bundled home from a yard out after Estonia failed to deal properly with a corner.
Wales survived a bruising encounter to claim an important win in Estonia on Monday night
As in Prague, Wales switched off too often at the back though this time they did not pay for it. On one occasion, Harry Wilson presented Sergei Zenjov with the ball inside the Wales box and was grateful to Joe Rodon for bailing him out with a goalline clearance.
Estonia should have equalised five minutes after the break. Markus Poom – the son of former goalkeeper Mart Poom, who played for five English clubs – delivered the free-kick from the right and Erik Sorga headed it over despite being unmarked eight yards out.
As the game wore on, Estonia grew in confidence and Danny Ward, whose error cost Wales in Prague, was forced to make an important save to keep out substitute Vlasiy Sinyavskiy’s curling effort. Moments later, Moore’s replacement Mark Harris failed to beat Karl Hein with a shot on the turn when he should have allowed the ball to run for Sorba Thomas.
Wales defender Ethan Ampadu (R) has a shot on goal in the first-half against Estonia