Wales 1-1 Belgium: player ratings, heroes & villains as Moore ensures home playoff
Rob Page’s side have put themselves in a good position to qualify for a first World Cup since 1958
Wales assured themselves a home play-off after drawing with the number-one ranked team in the world, Belgium, at the Cardiff City Stadium.
A draw was enough against Roberto Martinez’s men to ensure they’d be playing at home in March’s play-offs.
Kevin de Bruyne opened the scoring for Belgium but Kieffer Moore put Wales back on level terms and ultimately scored the goal which secured such a vital point.
After being jeered by the home fans, de Bruyne silenced them with the game’s opening goal. Wales blocked Axel Witsel’s shot but couldn’t stop the Manchester City midfielder from curling home a low shot with his right foot.
Wales were under the cosh for most of the half-hour but after withstanding Belgium’s numerous attacks, they brought themselves level. Dan James’ cross evaded Arthur Theate and Axel Witsel but found Kieffer Moore who tucked it under Koen Casteels.
In the second-half it was the hosts who looked the more likely to go in front as Neco Williams forced the Belgium keeper into a save.
There was a period towards the end that the Belgians had more of the ball again but Danny Ward was alert to what they could throw at him.
No further goal came and the 33,000 fans in South Wales were able to celebrate the fact they would be a seeded team in this months draw.
Kevin de Bruyne: He oozes class. The Red Wall tried to put him off by booing him and trying to make it uneasy but it didn’t phase him.
In his last 19 caps for the Red Devils, he has been involved in 24 goals, which showcases his importance to the side.
There was always a warning sign about De Bruyne’s ability to score from outside the box, given 11 of his last 15 goals have come from outside of the box. Scoring from outside the box isn’t a simple equation but for the 30-year-old, he makes it look easy.
He was quietened though in the second-half
Kieffer Moore: Moore has made a real impact on the international stage since making his debut in September 2019. Wales have a number of technical players who are good centrally and on the wings, but there was a desire for a number nine.
His goal was the eighth for Wales and since making his debut two years ago, he has been their top scorer across all competitions since then.
It’s great to see a player like him embracing elite level football given his early beginnings at the likes of Truro City and Dorchester Town.
Neco Willams: These last two games for Wales have shown Liverpool that the Cefn Mawr youngster is ready for first-team football, he’s been in a different class. It’s going to be hard to displace Trent Alexander-Arnold, Konstantinos Tsimikas or Andy Robertson but a loan may help.
He fits the bill of a modern day wing-back. He’s improved on his defensive game and is a handful going forward.
Joe Morrell: The Wales midfielder received a yellow card this evening which will now rule him out of their semi-final play-off. Morrell was a surprise starter in the Euros earlier this year but has been on the bench for the recent qualifiers. He may not be the first choice midfielder but his absence means one less option should an injury occur between now and March.
Morrell did put in a strong performance though so it’s a harsh inclusion because he played so well, but him missing out will be a blow.
Artur Dias: Another referee who misunderstands Kieffer Moore. It’s a common theme to see him go into the notebook when he waves his arms about. What isn’t realised though is how Moore himself is a victim of his stature because he isn’t given as many free-kicks.
Man of the Match
Kevin de Bruyne: As expected really given he’s the World Class player in the Belgium ranks. He started the game well and sprayed the ball well before getting a deserved goal.
Wales knew they had to stop De Bruyne to stop Belgium and they did that. He still deserves the man of the match award.
Wales (4-4-2): Danny Ward 6, Neco Williams 7, Ben Davies 6, Chris Mepham 6, Joe Rodon 7, Joe Allen 7, Aaron Ramsey 6 (C), (Brennan Johnson, 91), Kieffer Moore 7, Connor Roberts 6, Joe Morrell 6, Daniel James 7.
Belgium (3-4-2-1): Koen Casteels 5, Arthur Theate 6 (Jan Vertonghen, 84), Dedryck Boyata 6, Axel Witsel 6, Kevin de Bruyne 8, Hans Vanaken 7, Thorgan Hazard 7, Thomas Meunier 7 (Leandro Trossard 84), Divock Origi 6 (Dante Vanzeir, 58), Charles De Ketelaere 6 (Alexis Saelemaekers, 57), Timothy Castagne 6 (Leander Dendoncker, 57).
The situation will become a bit more clearer for Wales on November 26 when the draw for the UEFA play-offs take place in Zurich.
One thing is for sure though, they’ll be playing at home at the Cardiff City Stadium on March 24 or March 25.
They know it’ll be one of Turkey, Poland, North Macedonia, Ukraine, Austria and the Czech Republic.
Belgium are already assured of a place in the World Cup so they’ll organise some friendlies in March to prepare them for the tournament in December. In between the friendlies, they’ll have some Nations League fixtures in both June and September.