Broadhead earns Wales a point on his debut

Rob Page’s Wales were back in action for the first time since their group-stage elimination from the World Cup, and they faced a trip to Stadion Poljud – where they’d meet semifinalists Croatia. Wales have never beaten Croatia, having lost four of the six occasions these two sides have faced each other.

CRO: Livakovic; Sosa, Gvardiol, Sutalo, Juranovic; Kovacic, Brozovic, Modric; Perisic, Livaja, Kramaric

WAL: Ward; Williams, Rodon, Mepham, Roberts; James, Ampadu, Morrell, Wilson; Ramsey; Moore

Luka Modric forced Danny Ward into action early on, picking up the ball in space before surging towards goal and unleashing a long-range effort – but the Leicester City ‘keeper did well to punch it away for a corner.

Wales were pinned back into their own half for much of the opening thirty minutes, though they did enjoy a few attacks – none of them came to all that much though. Dan James’ probing cross towards the back post was claimed with easy by Dominik Livakovic.

Croatia were quick to counter and found themselves with a brilliant opportunity from a free-kick. Ivan Perisic fired a shot towards Danny Ward, but the Spurs wing-back’s effort was off target – and the offside flag was raised against the Croatian anyway.

Perisic had chance to redeem himself minutes later as he fired home, having picked the ball up from another free-kick. The goal was ruled off though, as the referee noticed an infringement in the buildup. Croatia eventually took the lead less than a minute later though, as Andrej Kramaric held off Neco Williams before sending his strike crashing past Danny Ward!

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Croatia took that one-goal lead into the interval, though they sought to double it almost immediately after play resumed. Despite some promising build-up play between Mateo Kovacic and Andrej Kramaric, the pair couldn’t get a shot on target – instead blazing an effort over the crossbar.

Wales’ best attack of the game came in the 60th minute as Harry Wilson played a phenomenal ball over the top to Dan James – but his volley bounced awkwardly and was sent wide of the post!

The hosts continued to probe for another goal to double their lead, and Ivan Perisic almost found it in sensational style. The Spurs star received the ball from Luka Modric before launching a first-time volley towards goal, and though it deceived Ward, it crashed off the crossbar.

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Injury time was nearing ever closer, and it was looking likely that Wales would fail to register a shot on target for the first time since 2016 – until a long throw in from Connor Roberts found Chris Mepham, who flicked it towards the back post where debutant Nathan Broadhead was waiting to tap it into the back netting! Wales had rescued a point in the most spectacular way possible, and they’ll look to carry this momentum into their second qualifying fixture against Latvia on Tuesday.

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