Wales kept their automatic hopes of qualifying for Euro 2024 alive as Harry Wilson scored both goals in a pulsating 2-1 victory over Croatia on Sunday.
In front of a full house, Wales produced one of their most memorable performances at the Cardiff City Stadium as Wilson rose to the occasion, scoring twice within 13 second-half minutes (47, 60) to ensure Rob Page’s side leapfrog Croatia into second place in Group D.
Mario Pasalic’s close-range header reduced the deficit (75) to set up a tense finale, but Wales absorbed a late onslaught to secure the victory needed to preserve hopes of finishing in the top two, and with it an automatic berth at next summer’s tournament in Germany.
An emotional Page said afterwards when asked about his players’ commitment: “That’s never been in doubt. There’s been a lot of noise. Actions speak louder than words.
“I’m sick and tired of speaking about my future, so let’s just talk about the lads and the performances. Young JJ [Jordan James] played like he’s a 30-year-old experienced professional against the best midfielder in world football.
“I’m so proud of them all. I get emotional at times as I’m just proud of them. We cannot wait for the next camp. We can’t wait to get ready for the next game.”
Wales came into the contest knowing victories in their final three group games were probably necessary to secure a top-two place and avoid the play-offs in March.
Page’s side still have to work to do in November – away to Armenia and at home to group leaders Turkey – but upsetting the 2022 World Cup semi-finalists in such fashion offers great encouragement.