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Wales beat Ukraine to qualify for first World Cup finals since 1958

Wales have qualified for their first World Cup finals since 1958 after beating Ukraine 1-0 at the Cardiff City Stadium.

In a rain-soaked play-off final in the Welsh capital, the visitors’ captain, Andriy Yarmolenko, headed into his own net in the 34th minute as he tried to block a free-kick from Gareth Bale.

Wales goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey made nine saves to deny his team’s eastern European opponents.

The result means Robert Page’s men go into Group B for the tournament, beginning in Qatar in November, alongside England, the United States and Iran.

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Gareth Bale’s free kick was deflected into the net

Bale said the result was “what dreams are made of”.

He told Sky Sports: “The result is the greatest result in the history of Welsh football. We’re ecstatic – we’re going to a World Cup.

“I’m speechless. We’re so happy. We did it for all our amazing fans and words can’t describe how I’m feeling at the moment.”

Bale, who has been suffering from a back spasm, said it was “tough to get through the game”.

Asked whether talk of retirement is now being postponed, he replied: “For a little bit.”

Midfielder Aaron Ramsey commented: “Little old Wales in a World Cup, eh?”

He added: “To get to three major tournaments now, to top it off with a World Cup, that’s something else.”

Wales defender Ben Davies said there was a “lot of emotion in the game – it was frantic at times but we stood up to it”.

Page said it was “unbelievable” and he was “so proud” of his team.

For some Ukraine fans, emotions were running high
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For some Ukraine fans, emotions were running high

It was an emotional occasion for Ukrainian fans as they watched their team far from home, where the war against Russia continues.

They wrapped themselves in their nation’s flag, looking for hope in dark times.

Coming into the match, they were able to take confidence from Wednesday’s 3-1 win over Scotland at Hampden Park.

Despite having some decent chances, however, they were unable to find the net.

Former Wales defender Danny Gabbidon said Ukraine “didn’t do an awful lot wrong”, adding that they “created chances but it just wasn’t going to be their night”.

Ukraine fans at the Cardiff City Stadium

Wales looked nervous and disorganised in the opening minutes of the game.

But they grew steadily into the contest, forcing a couple of corners as Bale and Aaron Ramsey probed for openings on the quick, wet surface.

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