Wales finally ended their 64-year wait to world cup final after thumping Ukraine 1-0 in the last UEFA world cup playoff. Elsewhere, Leo Messi bagged all goals when Argentina trounced Estonia 5-0 to chase Cristiano Ronaldo international goal record.


The Dragons seemed to have been more cautious while taking on the larger-than-life Ukraine who fought for the last ticket to Qatar as if they were in a battle against Russia. Rob Page's side employed 5-3-2 with more pragmatic approach compared to Scotland. Gareth Bale who normally played as one of the two frontmen as well as playing wide, was even given more complex role as a central midfielder instead to help initiating the attack. Olexander Zichenko and Co did create more chance and Welsh goalie Wayne Hennessey had to be in his best form to deny, block or catch the ball from their opposition's attempts. The goal came quite early sadly through Andrey Yarmolenko's own goal as West Ham man failed to sweep away Gareth Bale's free kick. Daniel James and Co were not able to extend their lead.


Their success to qualify to World Cup 2022 marks their second appearance in the world cup final round after their debut in Sweden 1958. At that time, Wales also clinched their last World Cup berth through a playoff after hammering the then-AFC team, Israel 4-0 on aggregate. It was the first ever FIFA intercontinental playoff in history. Interestingly, it was rather uncalled for since the world football governing body did not schedule one.


Wales was picked after drawing lots to face off Israel which did not play a single game in the qualifiers as all their opponents, including those in the final stage, Indonesia, Turkey and Egypt. They refused to play due to political reason. So, technically, Wales replaced them because FIFA could not let Israel qualify without playing any matches at all. They had the advantage because of the political conflict, quite the same way as they are this year when Ukraine has been entangled with political conflict with Russia since the invasion.


Wales vs Ukraine 1-0

Goals: Andrey Yarmolenko own goal (34)

Wales: Wayne Hennessey – Ben Davis, Joe Rodon, Ethan Ampadu – Roberts, Aaron Ramsey, Neco Williams (Rhys Davies 92) , Joe Allen, Gareth Bale (Harry Wilson 83),  – Daniel James (Brennan Johnson 71), Kiefer Moore


Ukraine: Bushchan – Mykolenko, Matvienko, Karavaeev, Zabarnyi – Taras Stephanenko (Serhii Sydorchuk 70), Ruslan Malinovsky (Mykola Shaparenko 70), Olexander Zichenko, Viktor Tsygankov (Mykhailo Mudryk 77) – Roman Yaremchuk (Artem Dovbyk 77)


Meanwhile, the rivalry between Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo is still very much on. This time it is about international goals. Leo Messi just netted five while dismantling Estonia 5-0 in a friendly fixture at Pamplona, Spain. The PSG man has scored 86 goals in total, taking over Ferenc Puskas on the fourth. Yet, it is still quite hard for the Argentine skipper to catch up with CR7. He just added his tally to 117 goals by his brace while routing Switzerland 4-0. The Manchester United forward is still on the top of the standings in international goal scorer followed by Iran prolific striker in 1990s to mid 2000s, Ali Daei (109 goals) on the second and the Malaysian international Moukhtar Dahari (89 goals) on the third. Messi needs to be careful as the current UEA forward, Ali Mabkhout, is entailing him with only six goals behind.