- Wales keep World Cup qualifying hopes alive with draw in Czech Republic
- Stand-in captain Aaron Ramsey puts Wales in front during the first half
- Jakob Pesek crashed just two minutes later at the Czech Republic equalizer’s home
- Danny Ward messes up Ramsey’s backpass to keep checks in front
- Dan James crashed an equalizer into the house with 20 minutes left to restore parity
Dan James scored a crucial draw as Wales overcome Danny Ward’s own goal to claim a point in the Czech Republic and keep their World Cup qualification hopes alive.
Without injured captain Gareth Bale, Wales took the first half lead through Aaron Ramsey, only to be equalized almost immediately by Jacob Pesek. Early in the second half, Ward failed to control Ramsey’s back-pass and allowed the ball to enter his own net.
But boss Rob Page made an inspired tactical switch in time and one of his substitutes, Harry Wilson, scored a second goal for James – which was awarded after a lengthy VAR check for offside.
Dan James’s equalizer earned Wales a 2-2 World Cup qualifying draw in the Czech Republic
The Leeds winger made it home to keep Wales level with the Czechs in second place in the group
Sportsmail match facts and ratings
Czech Republic (4-2-3-1): Vaclick 6.5; Mateju 5.5, Selustaka 6, Kalas 5.5, Novak 6.5 (Wisner 83); Raja 6.5 (Kuchta 83), Sousek 6.5; Pesek 6.5 (Otter 77), Barak 6.5 (Sadilek 77), Halozek 7 (Zammarhal 90); Schick 7. Subs not used: Mandous, Stanek, Zima, Brabec, Kopic, Havel.
Scorers: Pesek 38, Ward (AND) 49
Booked at: Barak, Sadilecki
Manager: Jaroslav Silhavi 6
Wells (3-4-2-1): Ward 5; Mefm 6 (T. Roberts 86), Rodan 7, Ampadu 6; Gunter 5.5 (C. Roberts 60, 6), Allen 6.5, Morell 6 (Wilson 60, 7), Ann Williams 7 (Thomas 76); Ramsey 7.5, James 6.5; Moore 6.5. Members not used: Hennessy, Davis, Lawrence, Jay Williams, Harris, Valks, Johnson, Cabango.
Scorers: Ramsey 36, James 69
Booked at: Ramsey, Ampadu, Moore
Manager: Rob Page 6.5
Referee: Deniz Aytekin 5
The result leaves these teams level on points, with Wales aiming for a win in Estonia on Sunday. A second-place finish in the group will likely give them a more favorable play-off draw as they try to reach the World Cup for the first time since 1958.
Bale missed his 100th cap here with a hamstring injury, meaning Ramsey’s presence was even more important to Wales.
With Wales fans in various parts of the stadium, spectators knelt before kick-off and the home crowd whistled. Desperate to join, Ramsey was booked within a minute for a foul on Philip Novak.
Wells could have gone back in the ninth minute when Dan James was caught taking a nap, leading the dangerous Patrick Schick to the visitors’ goal. Schick releases Adam Holozek, whose angled drive was well stopped by Danny Ward.
Having escaped that fear, Wells soon let the check off the hook. A brilliant ball from Ramsey from the deep caught the defense square and found James and Keefer Moore face-to-face. James delayed and then pushed his pass a bit, meaning Tomas Vaclick had time to run through the goal and block Moore’s effort.
Home supporters demanded a red card for Ethan Ampadu in the 26th minute for a heavy challenge on Ales Mateju, in which the Wales man – part of the three-man defense – escaped with a yellow. And his mood took a turn for the worse when Wales took the lead with a brilliant goal in a counter-attack nine minutes before half-time, started and finished by Ramsey.
Aaron Ramsey cuts Wells from the front in 36 minutes with a clever clip on a counter attack
Ramsey was Wales’ stand-in captain for the Prague clash in place of the injured Gareth Bale.
Schick’s 25-yard effort was deflected for a corner, which Ramsey headed clear for Ampadu. Ampadu found Neko Williams, who was cleverly dropped to field for such a position. James failed to head into Williams’ cross only for Ramsey, who charged for a moment to collect the ball from 80 yards and sweep it into the far corner.
It was the end of a much quieter affair and Ramsey celebrated with pomp in front of a group of Wells fans.
What should have been a signal for Wells to take control, instead they came back within two minutes. Novak broke free from the left and although Ward blocked his low strike, Pesek was the quickest to react and turned into a loose ball from eight yards.
Despite losing their lead, Wells had done enough before the break to believe they could still claim victory, although nothing could have prepared them for the goal that saw the Czechs win in the 49th minute. Gave an edge
Wales’ lead lasted just over two minutes as midfielder Jakob Plasek fired home on a rebound
Ramsey had intercepted Antonin Barak’s pass and directed the ball back towards Ward. Although the back-pass was certainly on the firm side, the Leicester goalkeeper should still have been able to tackle it. Instead he failed to control it and as the ball went past his foot, Ward could not recover in time to put it out of the net.
Boss Rob Page switched to four in the back of the hour, sending in Connor Roberts and Harry Wilson. Roberts made an almost immediate impact when he set up James on the far post for a cross, where Moore’s header was saved. Moore was lucky then that Wacklick was not booked for attempting to bundle in the net, despite having both hands on the ball.
Yet Page’s changes paid off soon afterwards. With a little over 20 minutes left, Wilson saw James’ run and fully weighted his pass for the winger to shoot into the vacicle. After a grueling wait for the VaR check, Wales can celebrate again when the target is confirmed.
Danny Ward re-gifted the check when he failed Ramsey’s second-half backpass
There was no pressure on the Wales goalkeeper, but the leg was hit in a terrifying moment
But James kept Wales’ World Cup qualification hopes alive with a much-needed equalizer
Wilson’s maneuvers were causing the Czech several problems and Ramsey sent in another sly pass, although this time Wacklick captured the close post. There was another near-miss when crossing for Roberts Moore, whose header was narrowly widened.
Both sides were creating opportunities. Wilson’s ambitious back-heel was just off target at the other end, with Roberts holding his head in the way of a ferocious shot from a squeak.
Then from another Wells counter, James had both Wilson and Ramsey in space, but opted to keep the ball and, when he shot, it went harmlessly wide.