For only the third time in their nation’s history, but for the second time in just as many Euros, Wales are going to a major tournament after clinching the 20th and final qualification spot from the ten Euro 2020 qualifying groups for next summer’s tournament. (Four more teams will join from the playoffs in March to finalize the field of 24.)
After losing two our of their first three games in qualifying, Wales have now gone five unbeaten in competitive action.
As usual, Chelsea youngster Ethan Ampadu featured for a non-insignificant portion of Tuesday’s match. He didn’t start this time, but came on just a few minutes into the second half, after Wales took a 2-0 lead against Hungary on Aaron Ramsey’s second goal of the game. The former Arsenal midfielder opened the scoring just 15 minutes into the first half, heading in a cross from Gareth “Wales. Golf. Madrid.” Bale. (On a sidenote, anyone willing to bet on a Bale-Mourinho thing at Spurs?)
With Ampadu’s help, Wales saw out the 2-0 win, sealed second place in Group E, and punched their tickets to Euro 2020. Wales made it all the way to the semifinals four years ago.
Hungary and Slovakia both drop into the playoffs from Group E now, where they will be joined by the likes of Scotland, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, and several others for a total of 16 teams vying for the remaining 4 spots (4 mini-playoffs of 4 teams each, with the single-elimination winners going to the finals).
Elsewhere on Tuesday, Mateo Kovačić and Mario Pašalić both featured as Croatia came from behind to beat Georgia 2-1 in a friendly, while Belgium put on another masterclass as they wiped out Cyprus, 6-1 in an ostensibly competitive setting. Alas, Michy Batshuayi didn’t make it off the bench. Neither did Willian in Brazil’s 3-0 friendly win over South Korea.
And with that, the international break is over. As far we can tell, there were no injuries for any of the Chelsea boys! Unbelievable!