Tree species They will discover who they face in Nyon on Thursday
Published: 21:55, 21 Nov 2023 Updated: 14:27, 22 Nov 2023 ROBERT PAGE saw Wales condemned to the Euro 2024 play-offs on a night of penalty controversy.
But this was an ante-climax for the Dragons as Croatia’s win over Armenia means Page’s men face the lottery of knockout football in March.
Neco Williams celebrates after he opened the scoring against Turkey Credit: Reuters
Turkey’s Yusuf Yazici left the Welsh waiting after he converted a penalty Credit: AP
Nottingham Forest wing-back Neco Williams gave Wales a glimmer of hope they could pip Luka Modric and co for an automatic spot at next summer’s finals with an seventh-minute curler.
The 2018 World Cup finalists made sure there was no final day Group D miracle after Ante Budimir scored in the 43rd minute against Armenia to ensure a top-two finish.
Yet Wales forward Brennan Johnson felt he should have been awarded two first-half penalties before Page’s men conceded one of their own when Ben Davies was adjudged to have fouled Kenan Yildiz by Slovenian referee Matej Jug.
Turkey substitute Yusuf Yazici sent Danny Ward the wrong way in the 70th minute for Vincenzo Montella’s side, who had already qualified for the Euros, to secure a point.
READ MORE ON FOOTBALL
Wales, who finished third in their group, still have a chance of joining England and Scotland at Germany next summer.
They will have to do it the hard way with the play-offs in March to come.
Wales reached last year’s World Cup via the same route after successes over Austria and Ukraine.
Thursday’s draw will confirm who the Dragons face in the ‘home’ semi-finals in Cardiff with one of three options of the Ukrainians again, Iceland or Finland.
Most read in Football
FREE BETS – BEST BETTING OFFERS AND BONUSES NEW CUSTOMERS
Win that and a final against either Poland or Estonia – with the draw also to determine the final venue – awaits.
When Wales and Page, who was publicly backed by FAW chief executive Noel Mooney last month after a spat, reflect over the winter months, they will rue picking up just one point from Armenia over two qualification matches.
After the disappointing 1-1 draw in Yerevan last Saturday which made an automatic qualification place a low probability, Page shuffled his pack with three changes.
Johnson, Nathan Broadhead and Tom Lockyer replaced the Bournemouth trio of Kieffer Moore, David Brooks and the suspended Chris Mepham.
Broadhead sent an early effort wide of the post before Wales got the perfect start through Williams.
Jordan James fed Harry Wilson and the Fulham winger found Williams on the left flank, who cut in and curled his right-footed shot into the bottom corner.
Johnson caused Turkey’s defence problems with his pace but the Tottenham star was shown a yellow card by ref Jug after a clash with Abdulkerim Bardakci.
Johnson felt he should have been awarded two spot-kicks. The 22-year-old and his team-mates saw their appeal waved away after a sliding challenge by Turkey’s Samet Akaydin.
Rob Page will be in Nyon on Thursday to discover the play-off draw Credit: PA
Minutes later, Wales’ appeals were fiercer when Johnson appeared to be bundled over by the same player inside the box. Yet Jug did not point to the spot and there was no VAR intervention.
Manchester United goalkeeper Altay Bayindir came on for Ugurcan Cakir in the 33rd minute after the Turkey captain appeared to sustain a foot injury.
With the Red Devils’ No1 Andre Onana picking up a groin injury on international duty with Cameroon, Bayindir could be handed his debut in Sunday’s Premier League clash at Everton.
Bayindir, who played in Turkey’s friendly win over Euro 2024 hosts Germany on Saturday, looked the part to deny Johnson either side of half-time.
Turkey should have levelled when Kerem Akturkoglu fired over from close-range.
But news of Croatia’s opener through Budimir quickly deflated the Cardiff City Stadium.
Read more on The Sun
Wales’ frustration increased further when Jug finally awarded a pen when Yildiz went down softly in the 68th minute following a nudge from Wales skipper Davies.
Johnson beat Bayindir but his effort was ruled out for offside but even a victory wouldn’t have been enough for automatic qualification.