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January 22, 2023

32 mins: Yaremchuk plays a fine first pass into Tsygankov’s path but Hennessey rushes in to snuff out the danger at the cost of a corner.

Mykolenko enters the book after putting an arm on James to stop the Welshman’s run. There are claims of an elbow being involved, but that would be a silly description.

30 mins: Yarmolenko buffers the ball inside the box before lifting a cross into the six-yard area with the outside of his boot, only to see Ampadu clear a header.

Zinchenko fires a shot from 25 yards seconds later but Hennessey gets behind. Ukraine is stepping things up here.

28 mins: Bale hasn’t brought much to the party yet. He hasn’t played much football lately and it shows. He’s the man for the big occasion, though.

26 mins: Bushchan limps into his own penalty area. Will he be able to continue?

Zinchenko hammers a shot into the gut of Ampadu and he needs seconds afterward to regain his composure.

Georgiy Bushchan seems to be struggling here.
Georgiy Bushchan seems to be struggling here. Photograph: Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images

24 mins: Ramsey sends in a fine cross from the right but it’s just over James’ head and Moore can’t get there fast enough to head home. A letting go for Ukraine.

22 mins: Bale takes his first shot on goal; he recovers a knockdown from Moore, then hits a ridiculously high and wide shot from about 35 yards out. I guess he’s just putting his eye in it.

Panic in the Wales box. A cross reaches Karavaev but he misses his first attempt and his second is half blocked before curling into the arms of Hennessey.

Gareth Bale has an interesting effort on goal.
Gareth Bale has an interesting effort on goal. Photography: Matthew Childs/Action Images/Reuters

20 mins: Bushchan is under treatment and gets a lot of spray on his ankle. He is on his feet and seems happy to continue, which will please the broads of Wales.

18 mins: Wales throw a deep cross into the box; Bushchan comes to take it but kicks the ball behind instead. Fortunately for the goalkeeper, the referee whistles a foul. Wales will be looking to stick more crosses in the box judging by this.

16 mins: Wales enjoy a good period of possession but Ukraine keep them at bay.

14 mins: The Ukrainian supporters make an infernal noise inside the stadium. They will not be drowned out by home fans.

12 mins: Yaremchuk thwarts offside trap to overtake Welsh defence; he goes one-on-one with Hennessey and tries to cross the goalkeeper, who goes down well to stop the shot and mop up the defense.

“According to Martin Tyler on ITV, there is no goal-line technology as Welsh FA decided it wasn’t worth the extra expense,” says David Wall. “How is it allowed, that something affecting the application of the rules is left to the discretion of the local federation? it’s not like watering the pitch or letting it grow a little longer, it might just affect how teams can execute certain styles of play (and that might be considered fair for the home team). If the local FA can’t afford it, Fifa should pay, it’s not like they don’t have enough money.

Hmmm…you’d think you wouldn’t want to take any risks with what’s at stake. Weird decision from the Welsh FA.

10 minutes: Ukraine have a few corners in quick succession but Hennessey and the defense are handling the situation.

Wayne Hennessey came out quick on the ball to fend off an early Ukraine attack.
Wayne Hennessey came out quick on the ball to fend off an early Ukraine attack. Photograph: Rebecca Naden/Reuters

8 mins: Williams picks up a cross pass from Bale, cuts inside and tries a shot from distance. The ball drifts wide but it’s a good sign of Wales’ intention.

ON the other side… Tsygankov hits a low drive that goes wide but Hennessey puts him behind just in case.

Stuart Rarity says:Every time I watch a game and I don’t have a particular dog in the fight, so to speak, I decide who to support by backing the team that has the most correct numbers on the shirts; i.e. 1 to 11. Tonight means Ukraine, so sorry Wales, looks like you’re missing out again.

6 mins: Davies fires a shot from 30 yards which is deflected behind. James swings into the corner from the left which Bushchan, who looked suspicious against Scotland, hits clear.

4 mins: Zinchenko fires a quick free kick which catches Hennessey and ends up in the back of the net but the referee calls him off. Malinovskyi takes the free kick legally by firing his straight shot at the keeper.

Zinchenko has it in the back of the net but the referee explodes.
Zinchenko has it in the back of the net but the referee explodes. Photography: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

2 min : Ukraine started well, enjoying the majority of the ball. Their quality is unquestionable, but their stamina will be in question later in the match due to a number of their squad lacking match practice.

Joe Allen enters the book after catching Stepanenko. James is also cautioned by Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz for a whimper.

To start up

Peep! Peep! Peep! Here we are!

The roof comes off for the Welsh anthem.

Welsh fans are beautiful voices.
Welsh fans are beautiful voices. Photograph: Geoff Caddick/AFP/Getty Images

Ukrainian players sing the anthem while swaddled in their country’s flag.

Ukrainian flags
Photograph: David Davies/PA

Here are the players…

“Much has been said about all the neutrals rooted for Ukraine,” said Duncan Edwards. “I’m not Welsh, but not only do I want Wales to qualify, I actually wanted them to beat Scotland in this game to reset the heartbreak of the 1978 qualifying campaign. also that Dan James prospers.

Only 15 minutes before kick-off. The stadium is filling up in Cardiff, the rain is falling. Things are about to get serious.

The aforementioned flag in the Ukrainian locker room.

A Ukrainian flag with personal messages from soldiers in the heat of battle hangs in the Ukraine dressing room 🇺🇦❤️

— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) June 5, 2022

Do it for Bubbins!

“Sitting here in Victoria, BC, I’m really torn,” admits Bob Zoelner. “No connection to either, but I would love to see Ukraine in the World Cup, but I also want to see Bale and Ramsey there. Let’s hope for a clean and non-controversial match!

David Brooks on his health: “I feel good, day by day it’s back to normal. It’s a pretty surreal feeling to get the whole thing clear. To think that six to eight weeks ago I was still on medication shows how fast it can be.

And also fantastic to see David Brooks speaking on Sky. He could help inspire a win for Wales.

Sky has the great Cliff Jones to discuss Wales qualifying for the 1958 World Cup. A class act of a man.

Bale’s last big chance…

Matt Dony emails: “In the best-case scenario, Wales finally qualify for their second World Cup, which is a dream for many of us. But it is the most controversial World Cup in history. And everybody will hate us. If that happens, the World Cup campaign will be amazing no matter what. To finally see these players on this stage is going to make my heart burst. But it will have a sweet and sour element. Wales to lose today would be heartbreaking. There’s no two ways about it. But if I had to choose any team to potentially lose, it would be these. I just hope for a decent game, no controversy, no luck. Just the best team to win. I can’t argue with that, no matter how it turns out.

Starting lineups

Wales: Hennessey, Roberts, Rodon, B Davies, N Williams, Ampadu, Ramsey, Allen, James, Moore, Bale.

Subtitles: Ward, A Davies, Gunter, Mepham, Wilson, Johnson, Morrell, Norrington-Davies, J Williams, Harris, Thomas, Matondo

Ukraine: Bushchan, Karavaev, Zabarnyi, Matvienko, Mykolenko, Malinovskyi, Stepanenko, Zinchenko, Yarmolenko, Yaremchuk, Tsygankov.

Subtitles: Sobol, Bondar, Syrota, Sydorchuk, Dovbyk, Pyatov, Mudryk, Pikhalyonok, Kacharaba, Zubkov, Riznyk

Field inspection.

Oleksandr Zinchenko talks about a walk.
Oleksandr Zinchenko talks about a walk. Photograph: Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images

Obviously we also have a piece of Mr. Wales himself Elis James. I wish Elis all the best today with the game and his move cancelled.

Wales will be inspired by this Dafydd Iwan.

Ben Fisher has the details…

There’s plenty to get you in the mood for this game starting with Ed Vulliamy…

Good afternoon

Here we are. Europe’s final World Cup spot later this year will be decided in Cardiff today.

Wales host Ukraine in one of the most emotional matches in history. Visitors arrive with the support of the world after the invasion of Russia. A national flag sent from the front line will adorn the dressing rooms at Cardiff City Stadium, an indication of how football and war are intertwined in this qualifying campaign. Qualifying for Qatar 2022 will mean the world to Ukraine.

For Wales, this is a last chance for Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey to qualify for the World Cup and they will be desperate to achieve this in front of their home fans. No doubt the atmosphere in the Welsh capital will be chaotic because, for 90 minutes, the host cannot afford to show sentimentality. There’s a lot at stake for Wales too, that’s for sure.

Ukraine made relatively light work of Scotland in the semi-finals, so they go into this game in great shape. They had a few days to emotionally recover from the victory in Glasgow and regain their balance.

Whatever the result, it will be an incredible result for a nation. Let’s just hope it’s a one-game cracker to take someone to Qatar 2022.

Kick off: 5 p.m.

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