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Wales vs Finland. UEFA Nations League Group B4.

Cardiff City Stadium.

Wales 3

  • H Wilson (29th minute)
  • D James (46th minute)
  • K Moore (84th minute)

Finland 1

  • J Uronen (sent off 12th minute)
  • T Pukki (63rd minute)

Wales 3-1 Finland: Harry Wilson, Dan James and Kieffer Moore on target as hosts earn promotion

Match report and highlights as Wales rise to League A in the Nations League courtesy of victory over Finland; Teemu Pukki reduced deficit after Harry Wilson and Dan James strikes but Kieffer Moore seals win

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Highlight of the UEFA Nations League B4 group match between Wales and Finland

Wales sealed promotion to League A of the UEFA Nations League after seeing off 10-man Finland 3-1 at the Cardiff City Stadium.

Jere Uronen was dismissed after just 12 minutes for hauling back Harry Wilson as the last defender, and Wales made their numerical advantage count when Wilson collected Gareth Bale's pass to shoot beyond Lukas Hradecky (29).

Dan James' thunderbolt moments after the restart extended Wales' lead (46) before Teemu Pukki's 27th international goal gave the Finns a glimmer of hope.

But Kieffer Moore headed in James' deep cross to ensure Wales ended their Nations League campaign unbeaten as Group B4 winners - crucially earning them a World Cup 2022 play-off place if required.

Image: Wilson celebrates his opener for Wales against Finland on Wednesday

Nations League Group B4

Team Games played Goal difference Points
Wales 6 +7 16
Finland 6 +2 12
Republic of Ireland 6 -3 3
Bulgaria 6 -5 2

Player ratings

Wales: D. Ward (7), C. Roberts (7), Mepham (7), Rodon (7), J. Lawrence (6), Norrington-Davies (8), Ampadu (6), Morrell (8), James (9), Wilson (8), Bale (7).

Subs: Gunter (n/a), T. Lawrence (6), Brooks (n/a), T. Roberts (n/a), Moore (6).

Finland: Hradecky (7), Arajuuri (6), Toivio (6), Kamara (7), Lod (7), Uronen (5), Alho (6), Schuller (6), O'Shaughnessy (5), Taylor (6), Pukki (7).

Subs: Forss (n/a), Soiri (6), Valakari (5), Niskanen (6), Hamalainen (6).

Man of the match: Daniel James.

Wales break new ground

It was April 1987 the last time Wales beat Finland on home soil - a 4-0 win in Wrexham - but the current crop continue to reach new heights.

Having qualified for next summer's European Championships a day shy of precisely 12 months ago, victory over Finland means they have now recorded their all-time longest run without defeat in competitive matches, 11 games stretching back to the loss in Hungary in June 2019.

Jere Uronen of Finland receives a red card from referee, Jesus Gil Manzano against Wales
Image: Jesus Gil Manzano brandishes the red card to Uronen at Cardiff City Stadium

Finland arrived in Cardiff boasting the most number of Nations League wins (eight) despite scoring just 11 goals in the competition but needing another if they were to earn promotion to League A.

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But Markku Kanerva's side - a week on from their impressive 2-0 friendly win away to France - were reduced to 10 men after only 12 minutes.

Danny Ward's goal-kick caught the visitors napping and Uronen stopped Wilson's run on goal, with Spanish referee Jesus Gil Manzano immediately brandishing a red card.

Team news

Gareth Bale wore the armband as Wales made three changes. Connor Roberts replaced Neco Williams, James Lawrence came in for the suspended Ben Davies and David Brooks made way for Harry Wilson from the 1-0 win over the Republic of Ireland that had kept them top of Group B4.

Finland needed to win to deny Wales promotion to the top tier of the Nations League and were without suspended skipper Tim Sparv and striker Joel Pohjanpalo, who broke an ankle during Sunday's 2-1 win in Bulgaria.

Wales assistant coach Robert Page, stepping in once more for Ryan Giggs, encouraged his players to make their extra man count and goalkeeper Hradecky was extended to deny Rhys Norrington-Davies before brilliantly keeping out Bale's strike from close range.

But Wales grabbed a 29th-minute lead when the Tottenham forward slipped a clever pass into the path of Wilson and the on-loan Cardiff forward finished in style for his fourth international goal.

Teemu Pukki celebrates with Finland's midfielder Robin Lod after scoring against Wales
Image: Teemu Pukki celebrates with Finland's midfielder Robin Lod after scoring

Wales changed their system at half-time with centre-forward Moore replacing defender James Lawrence, and the lead was doubled within seconds of the restart.

Moore made a nuisance of himself and Joe Morrell laid the ball off to James, who claimed his third Wales goal in stunning fashion from 20 yards.

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Bale was withdrawn just after the hour mark with Wales seemingly in cruise control. But Pukki reduced the deficit almost immediately when finding space on the right-hand side of the penalty area after 63 minutes.

It was the first goal Wales had conceded in 774 minutes of competitive football. But the hosts calmed any nerves six minutes from time when Moore's close-range header from a James cross gave Hradecky no chance. It was job done.

Image: Kieffer Moore rises to re-establish Wales' two-goal lead late on

What the assistant said

Wales assistant coach Robert Page was delighted with his players' application
Image: Wales assistant coach Robert Page was delighted with his players' application

Wales assistant coach Robert Page: "We did not take this whole campaign light-heartedly. We knew the rewards were there, potentially to get a World Cup place irrespective of where you finish in your group.

"It's a great achievement. What Ryan started in this campaign, to go unbeaten and to win in the manner that they did, I was pleased.

"I am extremely proud of that group of players in there, as is Ryan. I spoke to Ryan straight away at the end of the game.

"He's extremely proud of the players, how they've gone about their business and how they've handled the camp, to show the resilience and win the group.

"I've got mixed emotions, but you're proud to play for your country, lead them out as a captain, and to stand in the technical area leading them is a proud moment."

Man of the match - Dan James

Daniel James celebrates scoring for Wales vs Finland
Image: Daniel James celebrates scoring with a thunderous strike to make it 2-0

The Manchester United winger has struggled to nail down a regular place under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer this season, making just three Premier League starts, but he remains a vitally important player for Wales.

The 23-year-old tormented Finland from start to finish, scoring and assisting in a single game for Wales for the first time.

Wales will want more of the same between now and next summer having recorded as many goal involvements on Wednesday as in his previous 10 appearances for his country combined.

Player reaction: Promotion delights Bale

Gareth Bale praised Wales' unbeaten Nations League campaign as they topped the group and earned promotion following their 3-1 win over Finland in Cardiff

Wales forward Gareth Bale told Sky Sports:

"It's a big achievement to go through this camp and not lose a game. To reach League A is a big achievement for us as a nation and sets the foundation going into the Euros. The red card gave us more control of the game and more possession.

"It can be difficult playing against 10 men but it was a good performance. We kept our concentration. The team played well and we deserved the win.

"I managed to get us an assist to get us off to a good start but the most important thing is to get the win. It has taken a bit of time [to get back to full fitness] as I am a bit older now but I'm getting more games now. Being 2-0 up, the manager looked after me and kept Tottenham happy!"

Opta stats

  • Wales are unbeaten in their last 11 competitive matches (W8 D3), their longest such run without defeat in their history.
  • Since back to back defeats in 2018, Wales are unbeaten in their last 10 matches (W8 D2) on home soil - their longest ever run at home without losing.
  • Finland have lost back-to-back games against Wales for the first time since their first two encounters in 1971.
  • Wales have scored three goals in a game for the first time in 23 matches, since a 4-1 victory against Republic of Ireland in September 2018.

What's next?

The draw for the European section of 2022 World Cup qualifying will take place in Zurich on December 7, with the first round of matches taking place on March 24/25 during the next international break.

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