Wales confirmed their place at Euro 2020 with a 2-0 win over Hungary on Tuesday evening.
Ryan Giggs’ men went into the game knowing only victory would see them automatically qualify for next year’s tournament. However, their opponents also needed a win to guarantee promotion, setting the two sides up for an interesting tie.
Wales got off to the perfect start when Aaron Ramsey opened the scoring after 15 minutes, finishing Gareth Bale’s cross. The Juventus man then doubled Wales‘ lead moments into the second half, giving Wales breathing space and an advantage they would ultimately hold onto.
Ramsey overtakes Juventus’ ‘holy trident’ member: Key stats from Wales 2-0 Hungary…
- Aaron Ramsey is now Wales‘ joint-7th top-scorer of all time (16 goals) having scored his first ever brace for the country.
- His two goals saw Ramsey move one head of John Charles’ record for the Dragons, the first Welshman to play for Juventus.
- Ramsey is now level with Robert Earnshaw, Cliff Jones and Mark Hughes.
- Wales will be playing in just their third ever major tournament, after the 1958 World Cup and Euro 2016.
What next for Wales?
Wales had a slow start to their qualifying campaign, winning just one of their opening three games and then extending that bad run to two victories in six.
OFFICIAL: Wales have qualified for #EURO2020 courtesy of a 2-0 win over Hungary.
It's just the third major tournament they have qualified for. 🏴 pic.twitter.com/fP68oITDh1
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 19, 2019
The Dragons went into the final international break knowing only two wins would keep their hopes of just a third ever major tournament alive – though they were also reliant on other results going their way. And that’s what happened in the first game as Wales winning at Azerbaijan, combined with Croatian beating Slovakia meant for the first time in this qualifying campaign, the Dragons’ destiny was in their own hands.
Not overawed by the occasion, Wales were excellent on the night and fully deserving of their win. They will be hoping to have similar success in Euro 2020 as they did in 2016, when Chris Coleman’s side reached the semi-finals before losing to eventual winners Portugal.
Wales are now free to host friendly matches in the March international break so expect announcements on new fixtures soon, as the Dragons prepare for Euro 2020.
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Any Euro 2020 hope for Hungary?
While Wales are celebrating, Hungary must now fight through the playoffs if they are to reach the European Championship for the second time in a row. It will be even more desirable for Hungary, given the Puskas Arena is hosting group stage and round-of-16 matches in the special edition.
Due to the craziness of the playoff system, Hungary – initially in League C – will either face Iceland or Bulgaria in Path A or Scotland in Path C in the semi-finals scheduled for March. As the lowest ranked side in both scenarios, Hungary will definitely play their semi-final away.
Player in focus: Aaron Ramsey
Although Wales performed well as a unit against Hungary, there was one man to stood above the rest. After a substitute appearance against Azerbaijan on Saturday, Aaron Ramsey was handed his first start for Wales since November 2018 as injuries have seriously hampered his past year.
Aaron Ramsey has scored twice in a game for Wales for the first time.
Cometh the hour, cometh the Ramsey. 🦸♂️ pic.twitter.com/ty05EONcFk
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 19, 2019
Starting alongside Gareth Bale, the pair showed wonderful understanding of each other – the interplay Wales had been missing so far in the qualifying campaign. In a perfect moment for the Juventus midfielder, it took him just 15 minutes to find the scoresheet for Wales – his first for his country since June 2018 and 15th overall.
Ramsey added a second after half-time to move level with Welsh legends Robert Earnshaw, Mark Hughes and Cliff Jones on the list of Wales‘ top scorers. Next in his sight, holding sixth place, is Craig Bellamy on 19.
But it wasn’t just through goals that Ramsey made his return count. The former Arsenal midfielder was smooth on the ball, getting at the Hungary defence, completing five take-ons, more than any other player on the pitch, while also creating one chance.
The rest of the Euro 2020 qualifier action
Group E’s other game saw Slovakia beat Azerbaijan 2-0 but Wales‘ victory condemns them to the play-offs alongside Hungary.
In Group C, Serge Gnabry scored a hat-trick came from behind to beat Northern Ireland 6-1, securing top spot ahead of Netherlands, who beat Estonia 5-0, including a Georginio Wijnaldum trio.
Group G saw Poland cement top spot thanks to a 3-2 win over Slovenia, while second-placed Austria fell to Latvia who got their only win of the group. North Macedonia also beat Israel.
And in Group I, Belgium joined Italy as the second nation to have a perfect 10 out of 10 record, capping their qualification with a 6-1 win over Cyprus. Russia also beat San Marino while Scotland had to come from behind to beat Kazakhstan.