Wales vs Ukraine LIVE: World Cup play-off final result as Welsh book spot at Qatar 2022

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·27 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Wales defenders watch as the ball runs wide (EPA)
Wales defenders watch as the ball runs wide (EPA)

Wales ended their 64-year wait for a place in the World Cup finals as they beat Ukraine 1-0 on Sunday to end the war-torn nation’s hopes of reaching Qatar.

An own goal from Ukraine winger Andriy Yarmolenko, who headed a Gareth Bale free-kick into his own net, decided the contest.

Despite the loud and passionate atmosphere, Ukraine were on top from the outset and Wales keeper Wayne Hennessey was busy in the opening half making three vital saves to keep the score level.

It was against the run of play then when Wales grabbed the lead in the 34th minute, Bale fired a low free-kick from 25 metres out and Yarmolenko’s stooping, attempted header clear, flew into the net past the helpless Georgiy Bushchan.

Aaron Ramsey missed a great chance to double Wales’ lead after the break, side-footing wide from a great position and then Neco Williams drilled a well-struck shot against the post.

But Wales, who last appeared in the World Cup finals in 1958. had Henessey to thank again as he pulled off a fine one-handed save from substitute Artem Dovbyk’s powerful header, six minutes from the end.

Wales vs Ukraine: World Cup play-off final

  • Wales XI: Hennessey; Ampadu, Rodon, B Davies; C Roberts, Ramsey, Allen, N Williams; Bale, James, Moore.

  • Ukraine XI: Bushchan; Karavaev, Zabarnyi, Matvienko, Mykolenko; Stepanenko; Yarmolenko, Malinovskyi, Zinchenko, Tsygankov; Yaremchuk.

  • 2 min: Zinchenko goal ruled out after taking free-kick too quickly

  • 34 min: Bale scores with deflected free-kick off Yarmolenko

  • Full-time: Wales cling on to book place at Qatar 2022

Wales 1 - 0 Ukraine

Report from Cardiff, by Richard Jolly

19:12 , Lawrence Ostlere

The 32nd and last team in the World Cup won’t be the side most of the planet wanted. Far crueller things have happened to Ukraine this year but they were denied the expression of a nation’s identity and excellence that a place in the World Cup provides; denied, sadly, by one of their own. But if Wales had rarely been more unpopular outside the principality, after a 64-year exile, they could not afford to be sentimental. For six decades, the last player to score against them on the global stage has remained a teenaged Pele. All of that will change now. The class of 1958 are no longer the only Welshmen to qualify for the World Cup and it is a colossal achievement by Robert Page and his band of brothers.

Wales qualify for first World Cup since 1958 after edging Ukraine in play-off final

Result: Wales 1-0 Ukraine

19:03 , Lawrence Ostlere

World Cup 2022’s group B is finally confirmed: England, Wales, Iran, USA. No major storylines there then.

Result: Wales 1-0 Ukraine

19:02 , Lawrence Ostlere

Such diverging reactions inside the stadium. Elation for Wales players and their fans, achieving something that has taken more than 60 years to repeat. For Ukraine, their players are in tears in the corner in front of a sea of yellow and blue. It just wasn’t to be, and it’s a great pity that Ukraine won’t be at the World Cup.

Full-time: Wales 1-0 Ukraine

18:56 , Lawrence Ostlere

Wales have done it! For the first time since 1958, they are going to the World Cup. Heartbreak for Ukraine, who came so close.

Wales 1-0 Ukraine

18:53 , Lawrence Ostlere

90+2 min: Yarmolenko drives a shot over the bar with his weaker right foot.

Wales 1-0 Ukraine

18:51 , Lawrence Ostlere

Five minutes will be added on. Agony for home fans...

Wales 1-0 Ukraine

18:50 , Lawrence Ostlere

89 min: Ukraine come forwards once more – they might get perhaps one more good chance. Not this time, as Sydorchukat blasts a 20-yard shot over the bar.

Wales 1-0 Ukraine

18:48 , Lawrence Ostlere

86 min: Another long shot is saved by Wayne Hennessey. His handling in wet conditions has been immense.

Wales 1-0 Ukraine

18:44 , Lawrence Ostlere

82 min: Gareth Bale’s race is run, and he’s replaced by Harry Wilson. In the very next play Hennessey makes another brilliant save from Dovbyk’s header. Man of the match by a country mile.

Wales 1-0 Ukraine

18:41 , Lawrence Ostlere

79 min: Sydorchuk with a long-range effort but it’s easily saved by Hennsessey. Ben Davies has made another excellent challenge in the meantime – what a game he’s having.

Wales 1-0 Ukraine

18:37 , Lawrence Ostlere

74 min: Post! Johnson’s first touch of the ball, quite possibly, is a shot which fires low against the woodwork. A moment later Johnson is in the thick of things again and the ball falls for Bale in the box after a Ramsey cross, but his shot is well saved by Bushchan.

Ben Davies blocks off Andriy Yarmolenko (Action Images via Reuters)
Ben Davies blocks off Andriy Yarmolenko (Action Images via Reuters)

Wales 1-0 Ukraine

18:32 , Lawrence Ostlere

71 min: Wales change now, as Dan James is replaced by Nottingham Forest winger Brennan Johnson.

Wales 1-0 Ukraine

18:30 , Lawrence Ostlere

69 min: Zinchenko half-volleys a dangerous cross across the box but none of his teammates anticipate the ball. Ukrainian change: Malinovskyi is replaced by Shaparenko.

Wales 1-0 Ukraine

18:28 , Lawrence Ostlere

66 min: It’s all Ukraine for the past few minutes, and Wales are struggling to keep the ball. Davies this time is the man to make an important challenge on the edge of the box.

Wales 1-0 Ukraine

18:26 , Lawrence Ostlere

63 min: A good challenge by Neco Williams prevents another clear sight of goal. Perhaps Wales need to make a change here.

Wales 1-0 Ukraine

18:21 , Lawrence Ostlere

58 min: A massive tackle by Ben Davies! Tsygankov feeds Yarmolenko running into the box but Davies gets round to make the challenge before Yarmolenko could take on what would have been a clear shot at goal from close range.

Meanwhile, Martin Tyler thinks Gareth Bale should fight to be awarded the goal as it was “going on target”, despite clearly going well off target.

Wales 1-0 Ukraine

18:16 , Lawrence Ostlere

55 min: Another Hennessey save! Tsygankov steered a low cross on target and the Welsh keeper kicked it clear with his trailing leg having already dived the other way. Yaremchuk sprinted on to the rebound but it was all to quick for him to organise a shot on target.

Wales 1-0 Ukraine

18:15 , Lawrence Ostlere

53 min: A really bright few minutes for Wales in what continues to be a brilliant atmosphere. Davies whips in a good cross to the back post where Ramsey brings it down well but can’t pick out a teammate in the middle.

Wales 1-0 Ukraine

18:12 , Lawrence Ostlere

50 min: Wales manager Rob Page is booked for his reaction to a free-kick given against Dan James. Referee Mateu Lahoz does seem to relish dishing out a card.

Wales 1-0 Ukraine

18:10 , Lawrence Ostlere

48 min: Huge chance for Wales! They spark a rapid counter-attack as Williams finds James, who feeds Moore running into the box on the left side. He picks out Ramsey arriving in typical fashion but the Rangers midfielder can’t quite angle his foot correctly and his first-time shot whistles wide of the far post.

Kick-off! Wales 1-0 Ukraine

18:06 , Lawrence Ostlere

Here we go – the second half is under way in Cardiff. Wales are 45 minutes away from their first World Cup since 1958...

Wales lucky to avoid penalty?

18:01 , Lawrence Ostlere

ITV studio pundits Ashley Williams and Danny Gabbidon both think Wales were lucky to get away without conceding a penalty when Joe Allen inadvertently tripped Andriy Yarmolenko in the box. The Ukrainian captain went down a little dramatically, perhaps, but it is hard to argue Allen’s was a clean challenge. VAR had a look but decided it was not a clear and obvious error by Spanish referee Mateu Lahoz.

Referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz (PA)
Referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz (PA)

Gareth Bale’s free-kick deflected in by Andriy Yarmolenko

17:55 , Lawrence Ostlere

The moment that has Wales in front...

Gareth Bale strikes at goal (AFP via Getty Images)
Gareth Bale strikes at goal (AFP via Getty Images)
The deflection takes it past Heorhiy Bushchan in goal (Reuters)
The deflection takes it past Heorhiy Bushchan in goal (Reuters)
Gareth Bale celebrates after his free-kick is diverted home (AFP via Getty Images)
Gareth Bale celebrates after his free-kick is diverted home (AFP via Getty Images)

Half-time: Wales 1-0 Ukraine

17:50 , Lawrence Ostlere

Wales lead at the break thanks to what will probably go down as an Andriy Yarmolenko own goal, given Bale’s free-kick appeared to heading wide of the target. A bit of a needless mistake by the Ukraine captain – otherwise his side have probably had the better of the play.

Wales 1-0 Ukraine

17:48 , Lawrence Ostlere

45 min: Zinchenko whips a tricky corner into the six-yard box which slams into Conor Roberts and bounces safely to Hennessey. It might have gone anywhere.

Wales 1-0 Ukraine

17:47 , Lawrence Ostlere

43 min: Ukraine are finishing the first half on the front foot. They’ve already taken seven shots and five on target – can they find one more effort before the break?

Wales 1-0 Ukraine

17:43 , Lawrence Ostlere

40 min: VAR is checking for a possible penalty to Ukraine. Joe Allen tripped Andriy Yarmolenko in the box... but no penalty is awarded. Seemed perhaps a touch fortunate for Wales, that call.

Wales 1-0 Ukraine

17:42 , Lawrence Ostlere

38 min: The atmosphere has lifted again and Wales have their tails up here. Ukraine need to calm things down a little and get to half-time.

GOAL! Wales 1-0 Ukraine (Bale, 34)

17:37 , Lawrence Ostlere

Gareth Bale lines up a long-range free-kick from the left and his low shot is deflected into the goal via the head of diving Ukraine captain Yarmolenko! Ukraine have been the better side but Wales won’t mind – they lead in Cardiff!

Gareth Bale lines up the free-kick... (Action Images)
Gareth Bale lines up the free-kick... (Action Images)
...Gareth Bale celebrates putting Wales in front (Action Images)
...Gareth Bale celebrates putting Wales in front (Action Images)

Wales 0-0 Ukraine

17:35 , Lawrence Ostlere

32 min: Mykolenko is booked and that could make things tricky for him up against Bale for the rest of the evening – though saying that, we’ve barely seen the Welsh camptain in this game so far.

17:34 , Lawrence Ostlere

30 min: Yaremchuk flicks the ball cleverly into the path of Tsygankov running into the box, but Hennessey reacts quickly to come out and smother the ball before the forward can finish off the move. The goalkeeper has been crucial to Wales’ clean sheet so far.

Wales 0-0 Ukraine

17:33 , Lawrence Ostlere

28 min: More Ukraine chances, first for Tsygankov who is through on goal and fires wide of the far post, before Zinchenko brings another save from Hennessey. Yarmolenko is starting to get into the game, too.

Wales 0-0 Ukraine

17:27 , Lawrence Ostlere

23 min: Ramsey shows his quality with a perfect cross from the right side through the six-yard box, but Moore and Bale don’t quite anticipate the delivery and it whistles through to the opposite side untouched.

Wales 0-0 Ukraine

17:25 , Lawrence Ostlere

21 min: Bale’s first effort of the game is an ambitious long-range shot which rises too high. Ukraine probe at the other end and Davies makes an important block to take the sting out of the final shot in the box.

Wales 0-0 Ukraine

17:22 , Lawrence Ostlere

17 min: The corner is taken short but it’s a bit sloppy from Rodon in the centre, who was lingering in an offside position. Wales come again down the left where Neco Williams is becoming a good out-ball at left wing-back, though on this ocassion the pass is too long for the Liverpool defender.

Wales 0-0 Ukraine

17:19 , Lawrence Ostlere

15 min: A quick counter by Wales down the left earns them a corner after James’ cross is blocked.

Wales 0-0 Ukraine

17:15 , Lawrence Ostlere

11 min: Good from Ukraine, this. They have some good control in midfield, and when Wales do pinch it back they are struggling to find an outlet.

Hennessey is forced into another early save and then Rodon is caught on the ball under pressure by Zinchenko, but just about gets away with it. Wales need a few minutes of calm passing because the high tempo isn’t suiting them.

Wales 0-0 Ukraine

17:13 , Lawrence Ostlere

8 min: A couple of corners come into the Wales box but are well defended. This is a high-paced and attacking opening period in a raucous atmosphere, so it will be interesting to see how the game settles down, if and when it does.

Wales 0-0 Ukraine

17:11 , Lawrence Ostlere

7 min: Neco Williams with a good dart inside from the left into a shooting position, but he fires wide of the near post. A bright few minutes by the Welsh after a shaky start, but a moment later Tsygankov gets in a similar position at the other end and forces a low stop from Hennessey. Corner to Ukraine.

Wales 0-0 Ukraine

17:08 , Lawrence Ostlere

4 min: Wales finally start to get their collective foot on the ball and sustain an attack in the Ukrainian half. They win a corner which is well punched clear by Bushchan in goal.

Wales 0-0 Ukraine

17:07 , Lawrence Ostlere

2 min: A terrible start for Wales here – Allen is booked for a lunge after losing control in his own half, and James is also shown yellow for arguing. Pointless by both. Zinchenko then scores with a quickly taken free-kick but the referee is not happy with that and calls play back, it was taken too quickly. Hennessey saves the second attempt.

Wales 0-0 Ukraine

17:05 , Lawrence Ostlere

1 min: Wales look set up in a 3-4-3 here with Bale and James either side of Moore. That means Aaron Ramsey will need to tuck in tightly alongside Joe Allen in midfield and play a more conservative role.

Kick-off! Wales vs Ukraine

17:03 , Lawrence Ostlere

And Ukraine are quickly on the attack. It’s a high-tempo start in the Welsh rain.

Wales vs Ukraine

17:01 , Lawrence Ostlere

Both anthems are sung with bucketfuls of pride and passion. The atmosphere is extraordinary in Cardiff tonight. “If there was a World Cup for singing, Wales would be favourites every time,” Martin Tyler says.

Wales vs Ukraine

16:58 , Lawrence Ostlere

Here come the anthems...

Wales vs Ukraine

16:52 , Lawrence Ostlere

Kick-off is right around the corner.

Manager Rob Page says: “Gareth Bale, 100 per cent fit, absolutely. Aaron Ramsey too. We had that great game in Poland for the younger players, it’s been a great week, and now we’re ready to go.”

Ukraine inspired by support from home

16:41 , Lawrence Ostlere

Ukraine players have a flag hanging in their dressing room signed by soldiers on the front line in the war at home.

Midfielder Ruslan Malinovskyi says: “We think about them every day. I’m so happy to give a little positive emotion, a little bit of happiness, and I hope they do the job in our country and we try to do our job on the pitch. Something special, we will try.

“[We get] a lot of messages: ‘Guys, keep going, we’re so proud of you’.”

Ukraine fans support their team before kick-off (Getty Images)
Ukraine fans support their team before kick-off (Getty Images)
Ukraine fans show their support in Cardiff (Getty Images)
Ukraine fans show their support in Cardiff (Getty Images)

Rodon backs Bale to be at full speed as Wales aim to reach World Cup

16:40 , Jamie Braidwood

Joe Rodon has backed Gareth Bale to be at full speed as Wales attempt to end a 64-year wait to play at the World Cup.

Bale heads into Sunday’s play-off decider against Ukraine in Cardiff having played just 30 minutes of football since scoring twice in the semi-final win over Austria on March 24.

The 32-year-old was a peripheral figure during his final season at Real Madrid, making seven appearances in an injury-hit campaign and scoring just once.

But Rodon, a Tottenham team-mate of Bale’s in the 2020-21 season when the Wales captain made a loan switch from Real, said: “Gareth has obviously been in the game way longer than me.

“He knows what he needs for his body and how he needs to keep himself ticking over and in condition for the games.”

Joe Rodon backs Gareth Bale to be at full speed as Wales aim to reach World Cup

Wales fans warned against pitch invasion at Ukraine World Cup play-off

16:35 , Jamie Braidwood

Wales fans will face police action if they invade the pitch after Sunday’s World Cup play-off final against Ukraine.

Supporters have also been told not to bring pyrotechnics into the Cardiff City Stadium and risk arrest and a minimum three-year football banning order.

The warning from the Football Association of Wales comes after a spate of disorder towards the end of the season.

There were several post-match pitch invasions and a Nottingham Forest fan was jailed for 24 weeks after he attacked Sheffield United’s Billy Sharp.

“Cymru fans are award-winning and respected across Europe but depending on the situation at the conclusion of the FIFA World Cup play-off final; all spectators are politely requested to keep off the pitch,” the FAW said in a statement.

Wales fans warned against pitch invasion at Ukraine World Cup play-off

Rafael Nadal wins record 14th French Open and 22nd grand slam

16:32 , Lawrence Ostlere

Meanwhile, in Paris...

Rafael Nadal crushes Casper Ruud to win 14th French Open and 22nd grand slam title

Robert Page aims to emulate Jimmy Murphy and lead Wales to World Cup

16:25 , Jamie Braidwood

Robert Page is aiming to be the author of a fresh chapter in Welsh football history by emulating Jimmy Murphy’s journey from Rhondda to World Cup manager.

Murphy, who was Matt Busby’s long-time assistant at Manchester United, remains the only man to have guided Wales to the 1958 World Cup.

He steered United through the immediate disaster of the 1958 Munich Air Disaster as Busby lay in hospital for several weeks, having missed the trip himself in order to take charge of Wales’ World Cup play-off against Israel in Cardiff.

Two men from the same mining community who used the values of comradeship and solidarity forged in the Rhondda Valley to establish successful careers in football.

Murphy won his World Cup play-off and led Wales to the quarter-finals of the tournament in Sweden that summer; now 64 years on Page has a similar date with destiny against Ukraine in Cardiff on Sunday.

“I’m very proud of my upbringing and my heritage, absolutely,” said Page, who grew up in Tylorstown less than four miles from Murphy’s childhood home in Pentre.

Read more, here:

Manager Robert Page has taken Wales to within one win of the World Cup finals (Nick Potts/PA) (PA Archive)
Manager Robert Page has taken Wales to within one win of the World Cup finals (Nick Potts/PA) (PA Archive)

Wales set to take Italy’s training base in Qatar if they qualify for World Cup

16:15 , Jamie Braidwood

Wales are set to take Italy’s planned training base should they qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Italy were dumped out of the competition by North Macedonia in March, the Balkans minnows upsetting the European champions with a 1-0 play-off semi-final victory in Palermo.

The PA news agency understands that Wales will move into the training base that had been earmarked for the Azzurri should they beat Ukraine in Cardiff on Sunday.

Wales have not played at a World Cup since 1958, but a play-off final victory would see them allocated one of the state-of-the-art base camps to be used for the tournament in November and December.

Wales set to take Italy’s training base in Qatar if they qualify for World Cup

Wales vs Ukraine

16:06 , Lawrence Ostlere

So Wales make nine changes from their midweek match while Ukraine’s side stays the same. Will Wales benefit from fresh legs or will Ukraine be able to carry momentum from their semi-final win? Certainly Ukraine were impressive against Scotland and will be filled with confidence.

Ukraine players and fans celebrate Roman Yaremchuk (centre) scoring in the 3-1 World Cup play-off win against Scotland at Hampden Park (Jane Barlow/PA) (PA Wire)
Ukraine players and fans celebrate Roman Yaremchuk (centre) scoring in the 3-1 World Cup play-off win against Scotland at Hampden Park (Jane Barlow/PA) (PA Wire)

Ukraine line-up

16:04 , Lawrence Ostlere

Ukraine keep the same XI which beat Scotland at Hampden Park in midweek.

Ukraine: Bushchan; Karavaev, Zabarnyi, Matvienko, Mykolenko; Stepanenko; Yarmolenko, Malinovskyi, Zinchenko, Tsygankov; Yaremchuk.

Ukraine players ready for World Cup play-off final in Cardiff after Hampden heroics

15:45 , Jamie Braidwood

Ukraine left everything on the pitch at Hampden, to the extent that they did not have the energy to celebrate Artem Dovbyk’s late goal in the south west corner of the stadium. Their challenge now is to go again in Cardiff on Sunday, where another ferocious atmosphere awaits for a nation who have not qualified for a World Cup in over 70 years. “It’s difficult to imagine it will be louder than here,” Malinovskyi smiled.

“I think it will be a similar game,” he added. “We have four days to recover, I think it’s enough, and the important thing is to be ready mentally. They play at home also and it is a final, they will push but we must be ready to play calmly, not force it, and play smartly in this game also.” Stepanenko nodded. “Yes,” he said. “We will be ready.”

They have already given their people so much. Those in Ukraine who were forced to watch underground and in shelters as air-raid sirens wailed across the country had a moment to celebrate. The Ukraine fans bathed in yellow and blue in the corner stayed long after the full-time whistle, soaking up the scene and embracing the pride that only a victory like this could bring.

But deep inside Hampden in the Ukraine dressing room it was an altogether different picture, one that spoke of a job that is only half complete. “We need to be calm and focus on the next game,” Malinovskyi warned. “This win is important but if we don’t win the next game it’s for nothing.”

Wales line-up

15:36 , Lawrence Ostlere

Robert Page brings back his big-hitters after a heavily rotated side lost to Poland in the Nations League in mid-week. Here is how Wales line up this evening:

Wales: Hennessey; Ampadu, Rodon, B Davies; C Roberts, Ramsey, Allen, N Williams; Bale, James, Moore.

Ukraine players ready for World Cup play-off final in Cardiff after Hampden heroics

15:30 , Jamie Braidwood

Once the dust had settled on a victory that could be heard across the world the reaction from the Ukrainian players was as calm and collected as the performance that had preceded it. The country is now one win away from qualifying for a World Cup amid war and yet on an evening of intense emotions at Hampden the defining characteristics of Ukraine’s display was of cool heads and minds rather than the burning passion of their hearts.

That had been key as well to a remarkable team performance on an extraordinary night. It was impossible not to be moved by the sight of the Ukraine players emerging into the late Glasgow sunshine draped in their flag and for a moment, as a country’s hopes narrowed on the 11 players standing together on the Hampden pitch, the sound of the national anthem brought tears to their eyes.

“This game for our nation was unbelievable,” said Taras Stepanenko, who had not played a competitive fixture since December and yet excelled in midfield to help steer Ukraine to a crucial 3-1 win in the play-off semi-final. The players who collapsed in exhaustion at the full-time whistle returned to the dressing room to find hundreds of messages from family and friends, as well as those in the army currently fighting on the front line.

“I feel so good and so happy that it gives some positive energy for the people in Ukraine who are in the war, soldiers and normal people,” said Ruslan Malinovskyi, another standout performer at Hampden alongside Oleksandr Zinchenko. “We have a lot of contact with a lot of people on the front. They texted before the game saying, ‘Guys we are with you. Do your job on the pitch and we’ll do our job to protect our country.’”

Jamie Braidwood: Clever, clinical and cohesive Ukraine earned their win over Scotland on sporting merit

15:15 , Jamie Braidwood

There was already so much to admire about this Ukraine team but perhaps something had been overlooked along the way. As they progressed in their mission to qualify for the World Cup, it was not heart and bravery that saw them overcome Scotland, although that of course played its part. But amid the emotion – and in the face of what might have been an overwhelmingly intimidating atmosphere – this was a clever, clinical and cohesive performance that left no question over who deserves to face Wales in the World Cup play-off final on Sunday, and that is solely talking about sporting merit.

As Artem Dovbyk ran clear to seal Ukraine’s 3-1 win in the final seconds of stoppage time, Oleksandr Zinchenko, who played the pass, collapsed to the pitch. Dovbyk celebrated on his own in the corner – his teammates had nothing left to give. They had left it all out there to claim a victory that is worth more than football. In the corner of Hampden, the Ukraine fans who had supported their team so proudly came together to salute the players who were the heroes on the field.

Ukraine’s head coach Oleksandr Petrakov let out a roar that spoke of the importance of the occasion and for his country to be victorious on this stage. He had told his team not to fear Hampden. After all, this is a team who have faced invasion and the shelling of the Russians. They were made to hang on for the victory but this was gameplan executed with cold and calculated precision. It was a remarkable performance on what was an extraordinary night.

Clever, clinical and cohesive Ukraine earn their win in Scotland on sporting merit

Miguel Delaney: Ukraine bring light and joy to unite country in pursuit of World Cup

15:00 , Jamie Braidwood

It was a scene that, on its own, was almost as powerful as the performance. It showed how this had gone beyond sport, that it was a football moment like few others.

Artem Dovbyk had just put the ball past Craig Gordon to put Ukraine one game from the World Cup, in a moment that would usually have brought images of euphoria. This was something else, though.

Dovbyk was momentarily left to celebrate on his own, because most of his teammates just sank to the ground. A striking quietness engulfed Hampden Park, that was unlike anything you ever really experience in a stadium, and reflected the extremes this had gone to.

The Ukrainian players left all their emotion on the pitch, to quote their manager Oleksandr Petrakov, so could do little more than lie there. They were utterly exhausted but it was that kind of exhilarated exhaustion that only comes from going to the very limits.

They aren’t done yet, of course. “We go to Wales,” Petrakov said.

Ukraine bring light and joy to unite country in pursuit of World Cup

Richard Jolly: Bale on the brink of immortality with Wales’ epic quest to seize World Cup dream

14:45 , Jamie Braidwood

Brazil were still the reigning world champions when Gareth Bale entered the international stage. One of his opponents as he made his debut, Trinidad and Tobago’s Russell Latapy, was born in the 1960s. Bale was two decades his junior and the 2006 World Cup lay in the future.

If 2006 has a particular meaning to Ukraine, quarter-finalists in their only World Cup to date, it frames Bale’s career, too. This has been an epic quest. He has been the British game’s most successful export and, whether or not he is the greatest Welsh footballer – John Charles, Cliff Jones, Ian Rush and Ryan Giggs have competing claims – he has a compelling case to be the finest ever Wales player. He has dragged them to the brink of a first World Cup in 64 years.

Without his hat-trick away in Belarus last September, there may have been no play-off. He has not scored for Real Madrid since then. He went into March’s semi-final against Austria with 77 minutes of club football in six months and delivered a match-winning double; the first a sensational free kick, the second a sharp shot on the turn. Now, after a mere 20 minutes in a further two months at Real, Ukraine beckon. Bale’s cause may pale into comparison with theirs but he can seem football’s most patriotic Welshman, drawing inspiration from his country’s colours.

Gareth Bale on brink of immortality in epic quest to seize World Cup dream

Ukraine flag from battleground to hang in dressing room for World Cup play-off

14:30 , Jamie Braidwood

Manager Oleksandr Petrakov has revealed a Ukraine flag from the battleground will hang in their dressing room for Sunday’s World Cup play-off final against Wales.

Ukraine are one win away from reaching the World Cup in Qatar later this year, despite the ongoing conflict in their country.

Russia invaded Ukraine over 100 days ago and a bloody war has brought heavy casualties on both sides.

Ukraine’s players are desperate to give hope to their people by qualifying for the World Cup, and Petrakov’s side are able to count on the support of most neutrals around the world.

Ukraine flag from battleground to hang in dressing room for World Cup play-off

Bale: No let-up against Ukraine with Wales seeking World Cup dream

14:15 , Jamie Braidwood

Gareth Bale says he would make no apology to war-torn Ukrainians were Wales to deny them their World Cup dream, and suggested that his future does not rest on the outcome of Sunday’s play-off final.

Bale, who says he has had “loads” of offers since his nine-year stay at Real Madrid came to an end, knows about the emotion that Ukraine will bring into the Cardiff clash given what is happening in their homeland.

Ukraine has now been at war for more than 100 days since Russia invaded its territory in February, with horrific stories unfolding each day from the front line.

Manchester City’s Oleksandr Zinchenko has spoken of his dream of reaching the World Cup in Qatar later this year and giving the Ukrainian people some richly deserved feelings of pride and happiness.

But Wales captain Bale, though expressing sympathy for Ukraine’s plight, insisted that securing the Dragons’ first appearance at a World Cup for 64 years was the only thing on Welsh minds.

Gareth Bale: No let-up against Ukraine with Wales seeking World Cup dream

Wales vs Ukraine: Early team news

14:10 , Jamie Braidwood

Joe Morrell is back from suspension for Wales, while Ben Davies and Gareth Bale are both available too. Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen should return in midfield, while Joe Rodon may start in defence.

Ukraine have everybody available after their midweek win over Scotland and could name an unchanged line-up.

Predicted line-ups

WAL - Hennessey, Ampadu, Rodon, Davies, Roberts, Allen, Ramsey, Williams, Wilson, Bale, James

UKR - Bushchan, Karavaev, Zabarnyi, Matvienko, Mykolenko, Stepanenko, Malinovskiy, Zinchenko, Yarmolenko, Yaremchuk, Tsygankov

Wales vs Ukraine: How to watch

14:05 , Jamie Braidwood

The match kicks off at 5pm BST on Sunday 5 June, at the Cardiff City Stadium.

Where can I watch it?

The game will be broadcast live on ITV, S4C, STV and both Sky Sports Football and Sky Sports Main Event. It will be streamed on the Sky Go app and the ITV Hub. If you’re not a Sky customer you can grab a NOWTV Day Pass here to watch without a subscription.

Good afternoon

14:00 , Jamie Braidwood

Hello and welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of this evening’s World Cup play-off final. Wales are one win away from ending their 64-year wait for a place at the World Cup as they face a Ukraine team who are on the verge of completing one of the most remarkable qualification stories in the history of the tournament.

An electric atmosphere awaits in Cardiff as Wales host the play-off final for the final European place at the Qatar World Cup, after the match was delayed due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Despite the ongoing war and amid emotional scenes at Hampden on Wednesday, Ukraine produced a stunning performance to break Scotland’s hearts in the semi-final, with Wales having already progressed past Austria back in March.

Gareth Bale was key for Wales as he produced a magical double to defeat Austria and a nation’s hopes will once again turn towards the forward at the Cardiff City Stadium. If Bale was to guide Wales to a World Cup place it would add to his legend with the national team, after previous heroics in qualifying for the European Championships.

Ukraine will have been left drained by their efforts in Glasgow four days ago but their players have been inspired by the opportunity to provide joy, hope and pride for a country that suffered in the face of the Russian invasion. Oleksandr Zinchenko has led his side superbly and if Ukraine were to advance to the World Cup it would represent a momentous victory amid the most challenging of circumstances.