Wales – Austria: Brilliant Bale rolls back the years to take Wales one step closer to Qatar (2-1)
Wales captain Gareth Bale was the undoubted hero of the night in Cardiff, as he scored two superb goals to take his side through to the World Cup qualification playoff final. Wales are now just one game away from making it to their first World Cup since 1958, and whilst Austria had their moments in this game, Franco Foda’s side did not make the most of them.
Tactical analysis and match report by Harshal Patel.
Wales came into this match against Austria on a strong run of form, having not lost a game since the EURO 2020 round of 16 match with Denmark last year, and would have expected to beat their opponents, especially at home and in a single-legged tie. From barely being considered for international tournaments, Wales have now made it to two consecutive European Championships, been promoted to League A for the 2022-23 UEFA Nations League, and are also in with a shot of making their first World Cup since 1958. This has been achieved with a strong and identifiable style of play, first begun under Chris Coleman and continued under Ryan Giggs and now Rob Page.
Austria had been one of the surprises of EURO 2020, taking eventual champions Italy to extra-time in the round of 16 before a Matteo Pessina winner sent them out. However, since then, they had lost to Israel and Scotland in World Cup qualifiers, finishing fourth in their group. They only made it to the playoffs on the back of their performance in the 2020-21 UEFA Nations League, and so were unseeded at the draw for the semi-finals. Austria came into the game as slight underdogs, but boast enough quality . . .