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Page: Wales ready to go ‘toe-to-toe’ with Poland

Rob Page says that Wales are ready to go “toe-to-toe” with Poland in their Euro 2024 play-off final at Cardiff City Stadium.

Wales are 90 minutes from reaching this summer’s showpiece event in Germany after posting an emphatic 4-1 victory over Finland.

First-half goals from David Brooks and Neco Williams put the hosts in cruise control and raised hopes of a stress-free evening for the vast majority of a sell-out crowd in Cardiff.

Teemu Pukki banished those thoughts on the stroke of half-time with his 40th Finland goal, but Brennan Johnson quickly restored Wales’ two-goal cushion after the break and substitute Daniel James rounded off matters late on.

Wales now host Poland on Tuesday, and manager Page is relishing the challenge as the Dragons bid to qualify for their third successive European major championship and a fourth major tournament in five.

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Sky Sports News’ Geraint Hughes analyses Wales’ impressive 4-1 win against Finland, and looks ahead to their huge play-off final against Poland

‘We’ll go toe-to-toe and have a go’

“We don’t care who comes to see us. We will go toe-to-toe and have a go,” Page said.

“I am really satisfied. It was uncomfortable in moments of the game, but against good teams it does not always go your own way.

“We didn’t quite get the press right in the first half. We addressed it at half-time. On another night it might have been five or six.

“The biggest selection headache I had tonight was at the top of the pitch. I knew that pace would hurt them.

Neco Williams celebrates after putting Wales 2-0 up against Finland
Image: Neco Williams celebrates after putting Wales 2-0 up against Finland

“People like DJ (Daniel James) coming off the bench, playing really well at club level and scoring goals. When you have players at club level playing well, they can add value and change the game for us.

“Ethan (Ampadu) on his 50th cap, I thought he was immense. Brennan was a constant threat. Brooksy with his finish.

“We knew exactly what we were going to get with Harry (Wilson) and Brooksy in the pockets.”

‘Wales will be ready for Poland’

Brennan Johnson put Wales 3-1 up against Finland
Image: Brennan Johnson put Wales 3-1 up against Finland

Poland swept aside Estonia 5-1 in their play-off semi-final, and Page added: “We have done analysis on Poland and Estonia. We have already looked at Poland.

“It will be a tough test, but what more motivation do you need? The boys will be ready on Tuesday.

“We have a younger squad, a fitter squad, players that are playing regularly. We will be back on the grass on Sunday with a game-plan ready to go on Tuesday.

“It’s a work in progress. Everyone can see what we are trying to do, and we have given ourselves one hell of a chance.”

Williams: We don’t stop here now

Wales defender Neco Williams to S4C:

“Great performance, we came into this game with a game plan. And I think it worked out as good as it can go. The only negative from the night was that we conceded, but when we score four goals, it puts you in a good place. It’s a good stepping stone for our next game on Tuesday.

“It [my goal] wasn’t planned or anything, it was just instinct. It was nice to score for my country, it’s a special feeling to win. But to score was the cherry on the top. An excellent performance all round and a good stepping stone for Tuesday.

“We won our semi-final, we have a final now on Tuesday. We don’t stop here now. We have one more game to go. Hopefully we put in a good performance to go to the Euros.”

Analysis: Wales show there’s life after Bale

Is this a new generation of Wales players coming through?
Image: Is this a new generation of Wales players coming through?

Sky Sports News’ Geraint Hughes in Cardiff:

“Rob Page, his coaches and the technical director at the FAW will see tonight’s comprehensive victory as vindication of their ‘transition’ post World Cup in Qatar and life after Bale.

“A young team with senior pros continued its development – far too good for Finland. Yes, a tougher test comes next week, but this wasn’t a squeaky 1-0 win.

“And… who stayed on the bench, who wasn’t required? Aaron Ramsey. Not because he’s nothing to offer, my word I’m sure he does, but Wales didn’t need him.

“Page believes in this group and tonight they repaid his faith in them. Roll on Tuesday…”

Analysis: Wales look like a team

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Former Wales international Rob Earnshaw believes Rob Page’s side have a good chance of securing a spot at the Euros following their impressive 4-1 win over Finland

Former Wales striker Rob Earnshaw on Sky Sports News:

“Earlier in the qualifiers they didn’t really have a style or know what they were doing. Tonight they were excellent. Possession, clean, comfortable…

“Rob Page said in the week they were relaxed and knew the job they needed to do and it looked like it. Harry Wilson excellent, David Brooks coming in, excellent. In midfield, Ethan Ampadu, 50th cap, 23 years old, really good. He and Jordan James running the midfield. That made a big difference, that central midfield. And Dan James coming on and scoring the goal.

“They were brilliant tonight. If you think what Wales are now, they need to be a team. A few years ago the super, superstar of Gareth Bale winning us game after game after game. He’s gone. Now they look like a team and all over the pitch there are threats.”

What’s next for Wales?

Wales‘ attention now turns to the Euro 2024 play-off final at home to Poland on Tuesday night, kick-off 7.45pm.

Rob Page’s side then travel to Slovakia for an international friendly on June 9, with a kick-off time yet to be confirmed.

Should they qualify for Euro 2024, then Wales would be paired in a group with Netherlands, Austria and France.

Sky News
(c) Sky Sports 2024:Source