Salem Radio Network News Friday, February 23, 2024

Sports

Soccer-Wales’ Euro 2024 qualification hopes hit with draw in Armenia

YEREVAN (Reuters) -Wales’ hopes of qualifying automatically for Euro 2024 suffered a potentially critical blow as they were held to a 1-1 draw in their penultimate Group D match on Saturday.

Robert Page’s side have recovered from a poor start to their qualifying campaign to reach a position where a win in Yerevan and at home to Turkey on Tuesday would have sent them to their fourth major tournament out of the last five.

But their fate is now out of their hands.

From the moment Armenia’s Lucas Zelarayan cut in and fired a shot into the bottom corner after five minutes, the Welsh never managed to exert any sort of control.

They enjoyed a huge stroke of luck in first-half stoppage time when a long throw-in by Connor Roberts went in off the head of Armenia’s Nair Tiknizyan.

It failed to inspire a second-half surge though, and it was Armenia, who knew a win could keep alive their qualification hopes, who were the more likely winners.

Vahan Bichakhchyan was denied by the crossbar and Edgar Sevikyk had a chance saved in stoppage time.

Wales had chances too with Ethan Ampadu having a header saved but they did not do enough to warrant three points.

They have 11 points from seven games, five behind group leaders Turkey, but Croatia will go into second place if they beat Latvia later on Saturday.

Armenia, who have eight points, looked crestfallen at the final whistle as their Euro 2024 hopes were ended — paying the price for a defeat by bottom-placed Latvia in October.

Ampadu said all Wales can do now is beat Turkey and hope for a favour elsewhere.

“We are always good at bouncing back and on Tuesday we need to control what we can control and get the result we need, and maybe we will get a little bit of luck along the way,” he told BBC Wales.

While Wales finish at home to already-qualified Turkey, Croatia will be up against Armenia.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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