Wales shock Croatia to reawaken Euro 2024 hopes

Wales shock Croatia to reawaken Euro 2024 hopes

October 15, 2023 at 9:04 PM
Harry Wilson (left)scored twice as Wales shocked Croatia 2-1
Harry Wilson (left)scored twice as Wales shocked Croatia 2-1. Photo: Adrian DENNIS / AFP
Source: AFP

Wales breathed new life into their chances of qualifying for Euro 2024 as Harry Wilson's double earned a famous 2-1 win over Croatia in Cardiff on Sunday.

Rob Page's men move above the World Cup semi-finalists into second place in Group D of qualifying with Croatia now at risk of missing a major tournament for the first time since the 2010 World Cup.

Page's position was in doubt after a disastrous start to Wales' qualifying campaign.

A 4-2 home defeat to Armenia and 2-0 loss at group leaders Turkey looked to have all but ended their hopes of reaching a third consecutive European Championship.

On top of losing Gareth Bale to international retirement, Wales were without two of their major threats in Aaron Ramsey and Brennan Johnson through injury.

But Fulham winger Wilson became his nation's new hero with two brilliant finishes early in the second-half.

Victory was no less than Wales deserved as Croatia's big names failed to live up to their billing.

The home side were unfortunate not to be in front by half-time as Dominik Livakovic made fine saves to turn behind a Wilson free-kick and Neco Williams' curling effort from the edge of the area.

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic showed his displeasure by making three substitutions at the break, but even that did not shake his side from their slumber.

David Brooks continued his fairytale return from a cancer diagnosis to representing his country at the top level with the assist for Wilson's opener.

The Bournemouth attacker's lofted ball over the Croatia defence saw Wilson outpace Domagoj Vida and loft the ball over the advancing Livakovic.

The diminutive Wilson then used his head to good effect with a cushioned header from Dan James' cross.

James' curling effort was inches away from a Welsh third before they were forced to see out a nervy finale.

Mario Pasalic turned home a corner at the back post 15 minutes from time.

But the likes of Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic could not breakdown the Welsh defence once more to leave the group on a knife-edge heading into the final two rounds of qualifiers next month.

Turkey's 4-0 win over Latvia sealed their qualification.

Wales and Croatia are tied on 10 points, but the former enjoy the better head-to-head record after a 1-1 draw in Split earlier in the group.

Croatia are still to visit Latvia and welcome Armenia to Zagreb.

Wales travel to Armenia and host Turkey in their final two matches.

AFP photo