Wales v Finland: Euro 2024 qualifying playoff semi-final – live


Key events

73 min: Daniel James comes on for Brennan Johnson. Finland make a change too with Schuller leaving the midfield for Karinen.

71 min: Moore fires straight at Hradecky. The angle was against him, especially when he went with his left foot. Hit it hard enough but couldn’t find the narrow gap beyond the ‘keeper. Lovely build up. Johnson dropping deep to help, Williams on the charge, Wilson heavily involved. But it was Ampadu’s pass that set Moore on his way.

70 min: Finland have seemingly run out of ideas. Kamara stands still with the ball and plays a hopeful pass forward. It meets Welsh resistance and now Wales can build a move. Finland appear resigned to defeat. Why aren’t they making any changes?

68 min: Hakans is booked for diving! It looked like a foul in real time. And Rodon definitely puts an arm out as Hakans bursts across him after getting to the ball first. But it is a theatrical fall and I’ve got no complaints with that booking.

67 min: All rather comfy for the home team. Finland with all the ball. I’d say Kamara was bossing things if the score wasn’t what it is. But they can’t get beyond that final line of defence. It’s all in front of Wales.

65 min: Corner for Finland. You feel something has to break for them soon.

64 min: Pukki falls to his knees as a misplaced pass is easily dealt with. He’s been asked to chase lost corners and is surrounded by at least two defenders every time he gets the ball. This time he does well to hold off Davies but can’t find a teammate.

Wilson gets in the book with a mistimed challenge.

62 min: OH HARRY WILSON! Look, it wasn’t a gimme but he did so well to work the space after pouncing on a loose ball and charging into the box that you expected him to score. A quick shift and it’s onto his left foot. He’s aiming for the far corner but can’t get the curve needed to squeeze it in. He admonishes himself as he contemplates the miss.

Harry Wilson goes close! Photograph: David Davies/PA

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62 min: Kamara once again links up with Hakans on the overlap. But nothin’ doin from that move.

60 min: It’s not Wilson but the early goal scorer Brooks who makes way with a standing ovation from the home supporters. Kieffer Moore enters the scene.

Richard Hirst – a Fulham fan – wants Harry Wilson to get subbed. Not likely the way he’s playing.

58 min: Better from Finland. It started with a lovely switch pass to Hakans who did brilliantly to bring the ball under control. He darted infield and some swift passes had Kamara on the ball. He played a ball against the grain and perhaps one more pass to Pukki, who was momentarily free, might have been the better option instead of the shot that was blocked.

55 min: Ward is called into action but it was an easy save from close range. Hakans got to the byline and couldn’t spot a mate to cross to so dinked a toe poke of sorts straight to the Welsh ‘keeper.

54 min: Wales’ exuberance has cost them a card. It’s Jordan James who uses his arm to bring down a Finn that got the better of him down the touchline.

Piotr Zielenski has doubled Poland’s lead. Unless major drama occurs we have our play-off contenders in place.

53 min: Finland can’t get a toehold. Wales are thundering into challenges with Ampadu having a great game as the central shield and deep lying player.

I failed to give credit to Ethan Ampadu. It was his header at the back post in the build up to the goal.

50 min: Mepham has a shot blocked inside the box. Wales are finding little pockets of space now. They get a chance to hoik a corner in. It’s headed away and the follo up shot is a mile over.

49 min: Wales have a spring in their step. They’re scurrying about and winning the ball back. Wilson had a break on his own but ran out of room before he could find Johnson ahead of him. Wilson is at it again and is clattered by a retreating Tenho who requires some medical attention. When he gets up, the Finn cops a yellow card.

GOAL! Wales 3-1 Finland (Johnson, 47)

So easy! Wilson’s free-kick swings to the back post. It’s nodded back to the penalty spot where Brooks scuffs a shot that finds its way to Johnson who hooks it into the net. There’s a question of off-side but a Finnon the ground is playing him on. That was plucked from a training ground, that’s for sure. It just felt too easy for the home side who have their cushion restored.

Brennan Johnson turns it in from close range for a third Wales goal! Photograph: Huw Fairclough/Getty Images
A pat on the head for the goalscorer. Photograph: David Davies/PA

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We’re back. Big 45 minutes coming up (aren’t they all in Euro play-offs?)

We’ve got our first proper pun of the evening. It also comes with some proper analysis from David Bowen:

“Both defences look a bit porous so I don’t think it’ll remain 2–1.

”Finland seem to have a better shape without the ball and Pukki is probably the best ‘Finnisher’ on the pitch.

”But Wales have a better support act so think/hope we’ll shade it.

”If we do get through, I’m fearful if Big Bobby Lewandowski pitches up.”

“Hello Daniel,”

Hey Kári Tulinius, thanks for dropping in.

“The Finna seemed uncharacteristically out of sorts throughout the first half, probably shaken by conceding an early goal, hesitating constantly on the ball. When a team is feeling like that, having an experienced striker like Teemu Pukki is crucial. They’re still one down, but they’ll go into the second half feeling like they’ve got the wind at their back.”

Definitely, that goal makes it very interesting.

I’ve learned something new today!

I’m almost embarrassed to admit this, but we’re all friends. I always assumed the in-step of one’s foot was the side of the foot. Where one normally makes contact for a short pass. Which is why the confusion below:

“Hello Daniel,” says Geoff Wignall “I was a bit confused by your mentioning that Williams’s strike was with the instep rather than the laces. The instep being the top of the foot, where are his laces located?”

That’s me corrected and better educated, thanks Geoff.

Should we call this one the Exeter City derby?

Robin Durie is making a strong case:

“As a Grecian [that’s Exeter’s nickname for those not in the know], Daniel, it’s a tough call tonight – I watched Ethan Ampadu strut his stuff in the City midfield as a 15 year old… & this season, Ilmari Niskanen & Vil Sinisalo have both become fan favourites at St James Park…

“I’ll go Wales as long as our Finnish friends remain on the bench!

“(genuinely extraordinary to think that, just 8 years on from his debut as a gangly teenager, Ethan is winning his 50th cap tonight!)

Sara Torvalds has kindly offered to help out with some of the Finnish names:

“Hi Daniel! I can help you with the names. The Finnish ones, that is.

“Hakans, you wrote. But his name is Daniel Håkans, pronounced roughly Hawkans.

“And Rasmus Schüller spells his surnme with an umlaut.”

Hope that helps.

We’ve had a line from a “good natured Fin”. And I’m rightly called out for my lack of knowledge:

“Hi Daniel!” starts Anna Riijärvi.

“A good-natured email from a Finn incoming. We have very few claims to football-fame nowadays but, really, no mention of Hradecky when you summarised our lineup? It’s not like he’s currently captaining a side that is 10 points clear of Bayern München in the Bundesliga or anything…

“Loving the support from our travelling fans, at least we’re holding our own there. And when the opposition is the Welsh that is an actual accomplishment!

Apologies to Finland, the brilliant Bayer Leverkesen and the imperious captain of both with the gloves on. My error says more about what I know about the Bundelsiga than the standing of Lukas Hradecky.

“You didn’t learn Welsh even though you knew you were going to do this mbm? Very disappointing.”

I made the mistake and learned Polish in a day thinking I was on the other game.

Apologies Paulo Biriani. You’re though, this is a “cracking game!”

Half-time: Wales 2-1 Finland

What was mostly a pretty stodgy game has had some delightful moments.

An early goal, a stunning second and a sucker punch third which will remind the hosts that anything can happen if they switch off.

45+1 min: Just two added minutes. Wales will be spitting that they let that Pukki goal in.

GOAL! Wales 2-1 Finland (Pukki, 45)

And just like that it’s as one-goal game. A couple of fortunate bounces of the ball on the edge of Wales’ box ended with it at Pukki’s feet and he was so cool as he tucked it home beyond the onrushing Ward. A VAR check confirms the goal and we have a game here.

Teemu Pukki, who else, gives Finland hope. Photograph: Molly Darlington/Reuters

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43 min: Johnson gives away a free kick out of frustration. The ball broke from a Finnish foot on the edge of the Welsh area and now Wales could surge forward. Except they couldn’t because of a poor touch from their number nine. So he lashed out and gave away a foul.

42 min: Now Finland have to chase it. Lod gets to the byline but can’t control and it bobbles away for a goal kick.

Another look at that Williams strike. He used his in-step rather than the laces but still hammered it. What a strike.

I don’t speak Welsh but I’m hearing a lot of ‘Garteh Bale’ from the commentators.

It’s a fair comparison. That was a world class strike from a left back Welshman.

GOAL! Wales 2-0 Finland (Williams, 38)

Pick that one out!! Neco Williams has smashed one into the top corner. You don’t save those. Wilson fakes a shot from the free-kick and as he does he nudges the ball for Williams who now has a clear sight to the top right corner. But he has to find it and doesn’t he just! A rocket doubles Wales’ lead.

Neco Williams fires Wales into a two goal lead! Photograph: Paul Childs/Action Images/Reuters
Neco Williams laps up the adoration from the Cardiff crowd. Photograph: Paul Childs/Action Images/Reuters

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36 min: Finland fluff it! Mepham gifts the ball to Pukki and it’s a three on two. Pukki passes infield to Kamara who dummies and the shot from [I missed his name] is angled from the left. It deflects and Pukki chases but can’t reach the bobbling ball.

Wales counter and win a free-kick just outside the box. Wilson looks the most interested. Big chance to get one on target but might be too close inside the D.

34 min: Oooh, there’s a stinging shot from range off the left boot of Harry Wilson. Hradecky watches it all the way and it barely gets above waist height so it’s an easy save. Still, some ambition from the Welshman who is doing the most bustling.

32 min: Roberts plays a pass for Brooks who shows great speed down the flank to get onto the ball. But the recovery defence is fast as well and Finland snuff out a move that momentarily threatened to get interesting.

Game has really fallen into a lull. Some pretty passing in midfield but no real continuity or control from either team.

30 min: The ball hits the referee, which actually turns into a decent touch for Wales and they’re away down field. But the whistle sounds which prompts a moan from Davies. No idea why. Of course the game had to stop.

27 min: Wales over play at the back and the ball squirts to a Finnish wide player who rushes in and scuffs a shot that is, I think, blocked by a teammate. That was messy all round.

Wilson then gets on the front foot but can’t find a man in red with a dangerous looking sliding pass against the grain. Johnson wins a tussle in the box and peppers the side-netting, but is blown for a foul.

Wales can’t sit back and let Finland have chances. They need to get a second.



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