Australia qualified for the World Cup after beating Peru 5-4 on penalties following a goalless Intercontinental Play-off in Doha.

Socceroos boss Graham Arnold made the brave decision to substitute goalkeeper and captain Mathew Ryan for Andrew Redmayne ahead of the shoot-out, but was vindicated as the 33-year-old – who danced on his line for the spot-kicks – saved the decisive penalty from Alex Valera.

Peru, 22nd in the FIFA rankings, went in as favourites but started tentatively as Australia made the early running, particularly Martin Boyle who did well to beat two Peru defenders on the right in the 23rd minute before his inviting cross evaded everybody.

Ricardo Gareca's team improved in the second half, but the first shot on target did not arrive until the 81st minute via an Ajdin Hrustic free-kick that never troubled Peru goalkeeper Pedro Gallese, who denied Hrustic two minutes from time with a sweeping shot down to his left from a low Awer Mabil cross.

La Blanquirroja came closest to winning it in extra time as substitute Edison Flores rose to win a header at the far post, but could only hit the woodwork, and so to penalties it went.

Both teams failed with one each from the first five kicks, before Mabil scored and the dancing Redmayne saved from Valera to win it for Australia, who will go into World Cup Group D when they return to Qatar in November to go up against France, Denmark and Tunisia.

The introduction of Artificial Intelligence-driven semi-automated VAR offside technology remains on course to be used at the World Cup in Qatar.

That is the message from The International Football Association Board (The IFAB), the organisation that determines the laws of football.

Offside decisions using VAR have been taking up to four minutes, with the technology aiming to cut the decision down to three or four seconds by providing faster information.

Chelsea were the first Premier League side to experience the technology during the Club World Cup in February, just two months after the initial semi-automated system made its debut.

The IFAB continues in its discussions with FIFA as to the implementation of the upgraded VAR system, with the aim to utilise the offside technology at the upcoming World Cup in November.

"It looks very good and very promising," FIFA president Gianni Infantino told a news conference on Monday.

"Our experts are looking into [the trials] before we take a decision on whether it will be used for the World Cup or not."

FIFA's head of refereeing Pierluigi Collina, added: "My personal opinion is that I'm very confident we can go ahead with this. We want to achieve accuracy, quicker decisions, also more accepted decisions.

"We have seen in matches where the semi-automated offside was implemented these objectives were achieved.

"It uses the same process as goal-line technology, and we have seen that is very well accepted by the football community, nobody comments on this.

"We are confident that the same reaction, in terms of acceptance, can be given to the semi-automated offside."

The Premier League is expected to introduce the technology, if successful at the World Cup, in the 2023-24 season.

Trials are also in the works to give attacking players the advantage in offside situations, with Collina revealing the rules are under consideration.

"We are considering that a very marginal offside is not that relevant to be punished in modern football," Collina added.

"So we are running this experiment. Unfortunately, the competitions where these trials were allowed were suspended or abandoned for almost two years due to the pandemic.

"So now we have tests going on in [youth football] in the Netherlands, in Italy and in Sweden and certainly we will come to conclusions once we have evidence and figures from these trials."

The IFAB also confirmed it was investigating how to reduce time-wasting, with the ball usually in action for just 54 minutes of a 90-minute match.

Gareth Bale has suggested the standard of football he competes at in the build-up to the World Cup does not make "too much of a difference", amid continued speculation over a move to Cardiff City.

The Wales international will end a nine-year spell with Real Madrid and become a free agent at the end of June when his contract expires.

Bale, who helped Wales to their first World Cup qualification since 1958, has been linked with a host of clubs across Europe and the United States.

Cardiff chairman Mehmet Dalman is said to have flown to the United Kingdom to start discussions with the 32-year-old, attempting to bring the forward back to his hometown club.

Wales coach Rob Page declared a deal with Cardiff would "tick all the right boxes", while the veteran attacker's agent Jonathan Barnett revealed his next move will not be driven by money.

Bale, speaking on Monday before a Nations League clash with the Netherlands, refused to rule out a move to the Championship side as he outlined his plans to discuss his next career move with Page.

"It's something I guess I need to sit down and go through," Bale told reporters at a pre-match news conference.

"Not just with my family, but with the manager here [Page], with the physios here that we use, to see what would give me the best chance of being fit come November and December.

"I don't really know if the standard makes too much of a difference. A football game is a football game.

"I feel like I'll never really lose my quality on the ball. I guess it's a conversation to be had.

"I need time to think what's the best move for me, my family, my kids, and hopefully we'll sort that over the summer. I have options."

 

Bale won 16 trophies during his time with Madrid but rarely featured in the 2021-22 campaign, in which Los Blancos lifted the La Liga title and the Champions League.

He played in seven of Madrid's 56 matches in all competitions – 13 per cent – with just four of those being starts.

But Bale was still on hand to help Wales to the World Cup in Qatar, their 64-year wait the longest gap between qualification for world football's showpiece tournament.

While Bale's deflected free-kick off the head of Andriy Yarmolenko was enough to secure play-off success over Ukraine, he knows he still has to build his fitness.

"Ideally I would have had more games coming in [to camp] so I would have been even fitter and not had to recover as much as I am at the moment," he added.

"I've been available for quite a lot of the games in Spain. Sometimes you just don't get picked so people assume that you're injured.

"[he next step] is going to be massively important. I need to make sure I'm playing games and I'm as fit as possible.

"Sometimes I'm able to get away with it, but ideally I want to go into a World Cup playing games and being as fit for as long as I can on the pitch."

Reece James has said people who question Trent Alexander-Arnold's abilities "don't really know the game".

The highly-rated Chelsea right-back is in direct competition with his Liverpool counterpart for a place in Gareth Southgate's England team ahead of the World Cup later this year.

Southgate has an embarrassment of riches to pick from on the right side of his defence, with Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier also a part of his current squad.

James, who started for the Three Lions in Saturday's 0-0 Nations League draw with Italy at Molineux, said that while he wants to be his country's first choice, he does not agree with those who criticise Alexander-Arnold's defensive qualities.

The Liverpool man has regularly received uncomplimentary reviews for his defending, with some blaming him for the goal scored by Vinicius Junior against the Reds in last month's Champions League final defeat against Real Madrid.

However, the 23-year-old recorded 17 clean sheets in 32 Premier League appearances last season, more than any of his England right-back rivals, even on a per 90 minutes basis.

"I'll try everything I can [to be first choice]," James said. "Only my performances will be able to prove what I can bring. In these games and building into next season I'll hopefully be able to show that I'm ready to play every game.

"I make mistakes as well. I gave away a penalty against Hungary, so we are both still learning our trade. 

"Liverpool have 95 per cent of the ball and he defends less than I have to. People have a lot of stuff to say and don't really know the game. Trent is a great player."

Harry Maguire has defended England and Gareth Southgate from criticism relating to their style of play, pointing out they did well at the last World Cup and Euro 2020 playing the same way.

England were held to a 0-0 draw by Italy at Molineux on Saturday, leaving them with two points after their first three Nations League games.

Of similar concern is the fact the Three Lions have not scored a single goal from open play in those matches, with their solitary strike coming from the penalty spot in the midweek 1-1 draw with Germany.

Manager Southgate has been criticised for perceived cautious tactics, which many consider to be the root of the issue.

But Maguire is not convinced, suggesting they are not doing anything different to when they reached the 2018 World Cup semi-finals or the Euro 2020 final.

"[Southgate's] record over the last four years speaks for itself," Maguire told BBC Radio 5 Live. "When you play at the highest level there's pressure and scrutiny and criticism, and every game that you don't win there will always be criticism [afterwards].

"The last few games we haven't scored enough goals, but we got to a World Cup semi-final playing this way and we were a penalty shoot-out away from winning the Euros in our home country, which would've been one of the greatest moments this country has ever seen."

Maguire then urged England fans to get behind the team, with the World Cup less than six months away.

"Let the football do the talking. Everyone get behind us for the World Cup and keep pushing us, we're doing our best to improve," he continued.

"We've shown there's still areas to improve and if we want to lift the World Cup we have to strive to improve.

"Every day that we're together we have to aim for that because we want to set high standards and the next [aim] is to lift the trophy."

England are next in action at home to Hungary on Tuesday as they look to finally get their first Nations League win of the year and get off foot of the Group A3 table.

In an ordinary World Cup year, we would either already be engrossed in the group stages or be a matter of days away from the big kick-off.

But this is no ordinary World Cup year. We still have two of the 32 places to be confirmed for Qatar 2022, which is due to begin in November.

Tuesday's intercontinental play-off between Costa Rica and New Zealand will complete line-up, with their contest falling exactly four years to the day since Russia thrashed Saudi Arabia 5-0 in the opening game of the 2018 World Cup.

Before that meeting, however, New Zealand's neighbours Australia face Peru in the penultimate play-off on Monday.

Both matches will give the victorious teams a vital taste of what it's like to play in Qatar, with the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium playing host to both winner-takes-all encounters.

Peruvian shamans are expectant

It will be a long day for any Australia fans hoping to catch the game before work – kick-off will be at 4am AEST.

Those who do brave the early start will surely be doing so out of loyalty and hope, rather than expectation.

The Socceroos' route through the Asian qualification phase was unconvincing to say the least. They scraped third place in the third round, finishing just a point ahead of Oman and seven adrift of Japan.

Australia met the United Arab Emirates in the fourth-round play-off and edged the game 2-1 to find themselves in the familiar locale of an intercontinental play-off.

This was how they reached Russia 2018, beating Honduras over two legs, with their 3-1 win at home in the second leg proving decisive after a 0-0 draw in San Pedro Sula.

Monday's game will be only the second time Australia have ever played Peru. Coincidentally, that other instance was in Russia four years ago – Los Incas won 2-0 to claim a first World Cup win since 1978, although the result mattered not as it was the final group game and neither side could reach the knockouts.

Whichever team prevails this time will be in a familiar-looking group. France and Denmark, the other two teams in Group C four years ago, await in Group D alongside Tunisia.

A group of 13 Peruvian shamans believe it will be Peru, with a spiritual ceremony – which involved poking a picture of the Australia team with a sword – conducted on Saturday, apparently reaching the conclusion the Socceroos will be unsuccessful.

If it is Peru who make it, it will be just the second time they have ever qualified for successive World Cups, a remarkable achievement in itself given the country's domestic league is regarded as one of if not the weakest in South America at the moment: none of their four representatives in the Copa Libertadores this year claimed a single victory.

And yet Ricardo Gareca ensured his team finished ahead of Colombia and Chile in qualifying. The much-vaunted Ecuador only registered two points more than Peru.

Los Ticos back from the back

New Zealand fans will have a similar conundrum to their Aussie counterparts. Do they get up excruciatingly early to endure their nail-biting contest with Costa Rica, or do they just try to sleep through it and get the result a few hours later?

Either way, it's fair to expect a few more Costa Rican eyes to be on the game. The country's president Rodrigo Chaves has authorised an extra hour's lunch on Tuesday for public servants and private sector workers to allow fans to tune in.

The fact Costa Rica even made it this far is commendable given the difficult start they had to the third round of CONCACAF qualifying.

After one win from their first seven matches, a 90th-minute winner by Gerson Torres in a 2-1 defeat of Honduras last November proved to be the turning point.

Including that game, Costa Rica won six of their final seven qualifiers. The only game they didn't win was a 0-0 draw away to Mexico – in the end, Los Ticos only finished behind the third-placed United States on goal difference.

Success on Tuesday will see Costa Rica reach three consecutive World Cups for the first time, and in all likelihood they will make that four in 2026 given hosts Canada, Mexico and USA will qualify automatically.

New Zealand's preparations certainly don't go back as far as Costa Rica's, given the Oceania qualification section was only able to begin in March.

The All Whites cruised through, as they usually do, racking up 5-0 and 7-1 wins along the way, but Costa Rica will provide much sterner opposition.

Danny Hay's men have since played warm-up games against Peru and Oman, losing 1-0 to the former and drawing 0-0 with the latter.

It was Peru who prevented New Zealand reaching Russia 2018.

While they will once again be considered underdogs, there's arguably greater reason for optimism this time around now they are not facing a CONMEBOL nation and have just one match to play, rather than a two-legged affair.

In that sense, this is almost certainly the biggest match New Zealand have played since beating Bahrain 1-0 over two legs in November 2009 to qualify for South Africa 2010.

On that occasion they ended the World Cup as the only undefeated side after drawing all three of their group games.

A rather trickier group awaits this time with Spain, Germany and Japan already in place, but New Zealand won't care in the slightest if they just get the chance to cause an upset.

Jordan Pickford is undoubtedly the number one goalkeeper for England, according to former Three Lions star David Seaman.

Pickford, Aaron Ramsdale and Nick Pope are embroiled in a battle for a place between the posts for Gareth Southgate's side, with the Everton keeper the long-term favourite.

Former Sunderland man Pickford was the first-choice starter as England made the World Cup semi-finals in 2018 and when the Three Lions lost on penalties in the final at Euro 2020 to Italy three years later.

Questions have persisted as to the credentials of Pickford, with suggestions his distribution is inferior to his competitors, while he has been battling Premier League relegation with Everton at club level.

Ramsdale has been fighting at the other end of the league with Arsenal, who narrowly missed out on Champions League qualification to Tottenham after a poor end to the 2021-22 campaign.

Pope is another name often floated for a place in Southgate's side, but he will be playing Championship football with Burnley next season unless he secures a move away.

Seaman, speaking to Stats Perform at a media day ahead of his participation in Sunday's Soccer Aid charity match, believes there should be no doubts over Pickford's position in the England side.

"There's a lot of competition, there's no doubt for the number one spot. Jordan's the number one, there's no doubt about that because he keeps producing for England," Seaman said. 

"There's no way or no reason for him not to be England number one. He had a great end to the season with Everton producing massive saves under massive pressure.

"The relegation battle is far worse than going for titles trust me. I've had a relegation with Birmingham City, and it was horrible. And especially with a team like Everton who were in serious trouble, that's even more pressure.

"So Jordan's proved that he can handle that. He's played in the semi-final and final. He's got great experience. He's got great ability, and while he keeps doing it, he'll stay number one, but they're really close to it. The other two."

Only five goalkeepers made more saves than Pickford's 117 in the Premier League in the 2021-22 season, but he is 15th in terms of save percentage (66.7) of goalkeepers to have played five games or more, while Ramsdale is ninth (69.8 per cent).

Pope is fourth on that list with a save percentage of 71.7, and Seaman reckons England have the best depth of choice in goal that they have had in a long time. 

"It's good at the moment. The only thing that you look at now is that obviously Nick's gone down into the Championship," he added.

"That's not a real boldness, but for Aaron, he's established himself now as Arsenal's number one and he's done that really well this season. And it's his first season and he's dealt with it fantastically.

"So he will be pushing but the future does look good. We've got quite a few goalkeepers obviously in the Championship now with Nick and Sam Johnstone, then you've got [Dean] Henderson at Man United but he's not playing.

"In the three that we've got there at the moment, there's good quality."

Luis Enrique cited the struggles of France in the Nations League as debates continue as to the strength of Spain's World Cup credentials.

Spain play their final Nations League fixture of this window on Sunday, at home to Czech Republic, having picked up just five points from three games.

A pair of draws with Portugal and Czech Republic preceded a narrow 1-0 victory over strugglers Switzerland.

Luis Enrique defended his team selection and knowledge of football after the latter win, and the Spain coach again went on the front foot when asked about what La Roja's Nations League term meant for Qatar 2022.

"It's not about what I understand or don't understand. It's about looking at things with perspective. Nobody is interested in the other results of Group A," he told reporters. 

"If someone expects us to win every game then they do not know what modern football is.

"Look at the struggles of France, champion of the world and Nations League – we are not different. But we are a great team that can beat any rival, that's for sure."

As for who is the favourite for the World Cup, Luis Enrique finds it hard to look past two South American giants.

"I see Argentina above the rest and Brazil too, well above the rest," he added.

Alvaro Morata also came in for special praise from Luis Enrique, who believes the striker is the best defensive forward on the continent.

"All wingers can play as a nine. The strikers that I have brought not all of them can play as a winger," he continued.

"Morata can. I am not going to compare players but on a defensive level, no one beats Morata in Europe. He has an intelligence when it comes to pressing and physical conditions beyond any doubt.

"Then on top of that with the ball he has been very good, he has given us superiority. We want those who participate to know that they have an offensive side and another clear defensive one.

"With us if they don't do the defensive work, we can't be compact."

Wales forward Gareth Bale will not rush into a decision on his club future, but has categorically ruled out a move to LaLiga side Getafe.

Bale will become a free agent at the end of the month when his contract with Real Madrid, where he has spent the past nine years, officially expires.

The 32-year-old has been linked with an array of clubs across Europe and in the United States, one of those being Madrid-based Getafe.

Speaking earlier this week, Getafe president Angel Torres claimed the Spanish side had been contacted by Bale's representatives regarding a possible transfer.

However, Bale denied that was the case when speaking at a news conference that was again dominated by questions regarding his next career move.

Asked if he was close to making a decision, the former Tottenham man laughed and said: "No. But I'm not going to Getafe, that's for sure.

"I just want to be playing going into the World Cup to be as fit as I can. The manager saying ideally he wants everybody to be playing, and everybody wants to be playing.

"Hopefully I can enjoy my holiday and then decide where I want to be and what I want to do to try and play games to be as fit as I can for the World Cup."

Bale won 16 trophies during his time with Madrid, but he barely played in the 2021-22 campaign, which ended with Los Blancos winning a LaLiga and Champions League double.

 

He featured in seven of Madrid's 56 matches in all competitions – 13 per cent – with just four of those being starts.

"Once I get back into playing regular football, my body will get more robust and a bit better," Bale said on Friday.

"It's very difficult when you're in and out of a team to get a rhythm in terms of your fitness and health. 

"Any player will tell you, playing week-in week-out, your body becomes more robust, you get used to it and you get fitter. I just need to play games and I'll be good to go.

"I guess whoever I go to it'll be a win-win because hopefully I'll be playing well and getting myself ready. 

"Once these internationals are over, I'll have plenty of time to go on holiday and decide my future then."

Bale inspired Wales to their first World Cup since 1958 with victory over Ukraine in last Sunday's play-off qualifying final, ending any talk of an early retirement.

That 64-year gap is the biggest between qualifications for a World Cup tournament of any nation in history, though there is uncertainty over who will be in charge of Wales in Qatar.

Rob Page has been in caretaker charge since Ryan Giggs stepped aside following his arrest on assault charges in November 2020, allegations which he denies.

Giggs' trial is due to be held in August, but Bale believes Page deserves to remain in the post.

"I think he is the long-term manager," Bale said. "I don't think there is any question in the changing room or from the fans.

"He's done an incredible job coming in in difficult circumstances. Everyone with him has a great relationship.

"We have that good mixture where we can have a bit of fun but, when we need to work, we work hard. We do it correctly. There's a great balance. He's been great for us."

Chile's appeal to have Ecuador disqualified from the World Cup in Qatar has been rejected by FIFA.

The appeal was made on the basis of Ecuador selecting an ineligible player during their qualifying campaign.

Football's world governing body opened disciplinary proceedings last month following allegations that right-back Byron Castillo is Colombian and not eligible to represent Ecuador.

Castillo made eight appearances for Ecuador in their South American qualifying campaign.

Chile, who failed to qualify for the World Cup, lodged a complaint, but FIFA confirmed on Friday that Ecuador will keep their place at the World Cup, which starts in November.

A statement on FIFA's website read: "The FIFA Disciplinary Committee has rendered its decision in relation to the potential ineligibility of the player Byron David Castillo Segura with regard to his participation in eight qualifying matches of the national team of the Ecuadorian Football Association (FEF) in the preliminary competition of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

"After analysing the submissions of all parties concerned and considering all elements brought before it, the FIFA Disciplinary Committee has decided to close the proceedings initiated against the FEF.

"The Disciplinary Committee's findings were notified today to the parties concerned. In accordance with the relevant provisions of the FIFA Disciplinary Code, the parties have 10 days in which to request a motivated decision, which, if requested, would subsequently be published on legal.fifa.com. The present decision remains subject to an appeal before the FIFA Appeal Committee."

La Roja, who finished seventh to miss out on a play-off spot, would have taken Ecuador's place had FIFA disqualified them. 

Ecuador will face hosts Qatar, Netherlands and Senegal in Group A.

The trial of former FIFA president Sepp Blatter and ex-UEFA president Michel Platini has been delayed by a day after the former said he was too ill to testify.

Blatter and Platini were set to begin their court appearance at the Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona on Wednesday, with both men facing fraud charges.

Judges however have allowed a one-day postponement after Blatter reported he was suffering from chest pains.

The duo were banned from football in 2015 over corruption claims and were indicted in November last year by Swiss prosecutors.

It is claimed that a payment of 2 million Swiss francs (£1.6m) made by Blatter to Platini in 2011 was unlawful.

Both men deny wrongdoing.

Rob Page believes Wales can go "toe-to-toe with anybody" at the World Cup later this year after they secured qualification on Sunday.

Andriy Yarmolenko's own goal ensured a 1-0 win for Wales in Cardiff as Page's men booked their spot at Qatar 2022 via the European playoff.

It meant Wales qualified for the World Cup for the first time since 1958 and will face England, the United States and Iran in Group B.

Page believes his side can head into the tournament with belief they can do more than just make up the numbers, having advanced from the group stage in both of the last two European Championships.

"We go with the confidence we have had going into any game," Page said, speaking to Radio Wales Breakfast.

"We have played against the USA. We know they are a really strong outfit.

"We played against their European-based players in my first game [0-0 in November 2020].

"[USA and Iran] are winnable games, and when you play against a home nations team, anything can happen.

"We will go toe to toe with anybody, bring it on. That's the attitude we have got in that changing room."

 

On the victory against Ukraine, Page added: "It's one of those surreal moments where you wake up and realise we are off to the World Cup. It is unbelievable.

"Even at the final whistle last night, I was thinking 'is this a cruel dream that I am having?' But then when you realise it's reality, coming back to the hotel and celebrating with the players last night, then waking up this morning and having that realisation again that we have done it.

"It's such a proud moment for the nation."

Wales have lost just once in their last 11 matches, a 2-1 defeat to Poland in the Nations League, and are currently ranked 18th in the FIFA world rankings, three places above Iran (21st), three places below the USA (15th) and 13 places below England (5th).

"It's a special moment for me personally and for my family," Page added.

"My mum and dad still live in the Rhondda. We are all going to enjoy it - we are supporters ourselves."

Uruguay's run of five straight wins came to an end after they were held to a 0-0 draw by the United States in an international friendly in Kansas City on Sunday. 

Diego Godin saw an effort cleared off the line by DeAndre Yedlin as Diego Alonso's side started brightly, while at the other end Jesus Ferreira had an effort pawed away by Fernando Muslera.

FC Dallas striker Ferreira continued to look sharp during the first half, yet he was unable to find an opener before the break.

Christian Pulisic fired wide and Darwin Nunez lashed a strike just past Sean Johnson's left-hand post during a lively start to the second period.

The USA goalkeeper then made himself big to keep out Nunez's close-range effort as Uruguay looked the more likely side to seal a win.

They should have done exactly that in stoppage time, but substitute Edinson Cavani inexplicably clipped wide of an open goal after being teed up by Nunez.

Gareth Bale described Wales' World Cup qualifying play-off final win over Ukraine as the "greatest result" in the national team's history.

Andriy Yarmolenko's own goal ensured a 1-0 triumph for Wales, who were largely indebted to the heroics of Wayne Hennessey as Rob Page's team held on to book their spot at Qatar 2022.

It meant Wales qualified for the World Cup for the first time since 1958 and Bale, who will leave Real Madrid when his contract expires at the end of the month, was in no doubt about the significance of the result.

"It's the greatest result in history for Welsh football," Bale told Sky Sports. "We are all ecstatic. The fans together, it was a delight, and we are going to a World Cup!

"It means everything. It's what dreams are made of. It's what we've been working for since we first came here. I'm so happy for all our amazing fans and our country. Words can't describe how we're feeling at the moment.

"It was difficult. I haven't done too much over the last four weeks because of my back spasm, which everyone knows about.

"Contributing in whatever way I could, but the most important thing was to get through it and get through to the World Cup.

"I gave my all on the pitch and I was running a bit on empty, it's always good to have players come off the bench and do a job."

 

Wales' victory means they will face England, the United States and Iran in Group B in Qatar.

And interim manager Page dedicated the Red Dragons' success to former boss Gary Speed, who died in 2011.

"I've said in the build-up, Gary Speed started this 12 or 13 years ago," he told a media conference. "I want to dedicate this to Gary. He started the culture, 12 years ago.

"There was a difference, there was a change. The environment completely changed. I've inherited that, Chris Coleman took it on and took it to another level, and I've inherited that group.

"We're confident going into games now. We don't hope to qualify for the World Cup or Euros now, we believe we can do it, so there's been a massive change in the mentality as well.

"I had a difficult decision tonight. I've got people like Harry Wilson and Brennan Johnson, who is going to be a superstar, isn't he? You've got people like him who didn't start tonight. But we had our best 11 on the pitch.

"It's encouraging, it's good, we're going in the right direction. We need to continue to develop these young players that we have done for the last few years, and it's only going to get better for us."

Wales will appear at the World Cup for the first time in 64 years after Andriy Yarmolenko's own goal ensured a 1-0 qualifying play-off final win over Ukraine.

Ukraine marked their first competitive match back after Russia's invasion with a 3-1 play-off semi-final win over Scotland on Wednesday to tee up the winner-takes-all decider in Cardiff.

Oleksandr Petrakov's visitors controlled first-half proceedings but were made to pay when Gareth Bale, with the help of Yarmolenko's head, struck first after 34 minutes.

Wales were largely indebted to the heroics of Wayne Hennessey as Rob Page's team held on to book their spot in Qatar alongside England, United States and Iran in World Cup Group B.

A long-range Viktor Tsygankov drive forced an early save from Hennessey, who tipped over a deflected cross from the Ukraine winger from the resulting corner.

Oleksandr Petrakov's visitors, buoyed on by a vociferous away crowd, continued with their dominance as another smart Hennessey stop denied Roman Yaremchuk as he threatened with a drilled effort.

Hennessey kept out Oleksandr Zinchenko's curler and the Wales goalkeeper's plethora of first-half saves paid dividends, with Yarmolenko heading Bale's goal-bound free-kick past Georgi Bushchan.

Aaron Ramsey angled a glorious chance from Kieffer Moore's cutback wide, while Hennessey kicked away Tsygankov's close-range prod in an entertaining second-half opening.

Ruslan Malinovskiy fired a deflected strike wide as Ukraine searched for an equaliser, with Brennan Johnson hitting the post and Bushchan denying Bale at the other end during a frenetic finish.

Hennessey was again the hero as he produced a fantastic stop against Artem Dovbyk in the closing stages to send Wales to the World Cup.

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