Wales 0-0 Estonia: Points dropped as automatic qualification taken out of hands of Wales

World Cup qualifier disappointment for Wales as draw means they must focus on race for play-off place

Wales coach Rob Page reacts during the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier match between Wales and Estonia at Cardiff City Stadium on September 08, 2021 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Wales dropped points in their quest to qualify for the 2022 World Cup after they were held to a goalless draw by Estonia at the Cardiff City Stadium.

The result knocks automatic qualification out of Rob Page's sides hands with favourites Belgium now in pole position to qualify with a next positive result after their 1-0 win over Belarus.

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Wales will now have to consign themselves to compete with the Czech Republic for a runners-up spot that would guarantee them a home play-off.

Gareth Bale of Wales reacts following the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier match between Wales and Estonia at Cardiff City Stadium on September 08, 2021 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

From the five new players that Rob Page had at his disposal, he opted for Ethan Ampadu, Harry Wilson, and Tyler Roberts, in a more attacking line-up than Sunday’s win.

With some fans still taking to their seats, the hosts carved an early opportunity as Chris Gunter broke down his right-flank before a pass across the box to Daniel James who stabbed his shot wide.

After a fast-paced start, the game fell flat but this went into Estonia's favour who had come to sit back and challenge on the counter-attack.

For a side that had scored first in their last two away World Cup qualifiers, they almost made it a third. Mattias Käit picked up Artur Pikk's ball on the edge of the box and curled it onto the crossbar, proving that the minnows weren't here to just make up the numbers.

With the first half faltering out and not a shot for Karl Hein to contest, there was a hope that the Red Wall’s ‘Canton Stand’ would provide the inspiration for the men in red.

But first, a moment of reflection, spectators rose to their feet in the 52nd minute to applaud former manager Gary Speed, who would have celebrated his birthday.

On the pitch, the players almost gave the fans something to shout about. Ben Davies’ perfect free-kick found the head of former Welsh Mafia groupmate Gareth Bale, who forced Karl Hein into an important save.

More chances were to come and this one should have been taken, Roberts, still finding his feet in the striker role, had Hein to beat in a one-on-one but his finish lacked conviction. In what was an opportunity for him to stake a claim in the front line, he failed to put down a marker, as Mark Harris was introduced in his place.

Moving into the latter stages, Bale was keen to match his performance on Sunday and almost inspired an opener. Driving at the Estonian defence, he forced Hein to dive down to his effort, palming it back to Bale, who headed onto the post. The wind were in the sails of Wales as Joe Allen followed up with a squeezed shot that Hein dealt with.

There was no urgency however in the six minutes of additional time shown. No late show like in Kazan on Sunday. A number of players dropped to their feet and there were sections of booing from supporters so keen to see success, especially after their involvement in EURO 2020.