Scorers: Jorgensen (42′), Braithwaite (88′), Bale (89′)
Wales missed the chance to finish top of their Nations League group following defeat to leaders Denmark in their final game of the competition.
Ryan Giggs’ men failed to take their chances on an evening when they had to win to finish top of Nations League Group B4.
Topping the group would have resulted in promotion, qualification for the Euro 2020 play-offs and £1.5 million in prize money.
But it wasn’t to be for Wales who lacked quality against a team that showed it in abundance to score the first goal through Nicolai Jorgensen. A wonderful free-flowing counter attack opened up the hosts’ defence in the 42nd minute before Jorgensen slotted the ball past Wayne Hennessey with a cool finish.
Denmark made it two when Martin Braithwaite scored with a stunning effort, controlling the ball with his chest inside the box before finding the top corner with his next touch.
Wales got one back almost instantly through Gareth Bale, but it wasn’t enough and Denmark left the Cardiff City Stadium with all three points and Group B4 victory.
Denmark had the first of the chances when star man Christian Eriksen took sight from outside the box, firing just over.
Gareth Bale then came close with a fine effort from the edge of the box. Kasper Schmeichel did well to adjust to the swerving ball while in mid air, palming it wide for a corner.
In the next phase of play, Wales came close again when James Chester latched onto David Brooks’ pin-point cross, heading wide from close range. The Aston Villa defender should have done better.
Wales’ concentration levels were off the mark in the first half. They had Denmark contained, but they were too slow in the build-up. There were too many stray passes, poor touches and the decision-making all over the pitch was poor.
It restrained Wales in the first-half, but they did manage to put together one memorising passage of play, working their way down the pitch, passing and moving excellently. The play resulted in a golden chance for Gareth Bale at the back post following Connor Roberts’ cross, but somehow the Real Madrid star managed to head wide.
Then it was Denmark’s turn to put together a fine move, and the visitors didn’t spurn their chance. A crisp attacking move saw Denmark move from the back to front in four passes and after Yussuf Pulson played in Nicolai Jorgensen, there was only going to be one outcome. A composed finish to hand the visitors the lead with three minutes remaining in the first half.
Wales responded well after going in behind at the break. Withing three minutes of the restart, they had a golden chance when Gareth Bale crossed for David Brooks. The winger got too much on the finish, resulting in a wayward effort.
The Bournemouth winger came a little closer 10 minutes later after carving open the Denmark defence with speed and trickery. His eventual effort curled just wide of the top corner from the edge of the box.
Tyler Roberts was next to try his luck, heading Chris Gunter’s cross wide of the far post, and time was beginning to run out for Wales, who still needed two goals without reply to win the group.
Wales were beginning to commit in numbers and it showed when Yussuf Poulsen was allowed to run through on goal, only to put the ball way over the crossbar. A poor finish.
Wales’ next chance arrived through a Gareth Bale set-piece. The winger dispatched an inch-perfect free-kick from range only for Kasper Schmeichel to pull of a heroic to keep his side in front.
That proved to be a key moment. Denmark went on to score another through Martin Braithwaite, who did excellently to bring the ball down on his chest inside the box, before smashing the ball into the top corner with his next touch.
A truly stunning effort, but the celebrations were short-lived, because just one minute later, Gareth Bale latched onto a loose ball, taking it past the keeper before slotting into the empty net.
However, that goal proved to be little more than a consolation as Denmark saw out the final moments to secure all three points, the group win and promotion to League A for the next edition of the Nations League.
This was a disappointing display from Wales, who we expected to come out of the blocks firing with little to lose on an evening when they had to win.
They stumbled out of the blocks, showing a clear lack of concentration, and that cost them against a clinical Denmark side who have experience and quality in abundance.
It feels like Wales have stumbled at the final hurdle again after losing to Ireland in the last game of the World Cup qualifiers this time last year.
That could be coincidental, but it’s something that may have to be looked at ahead of next year’s Euro 2020 qualifiers. Wales must do better than they did tonight, particularly against sides of this quality. There’s work to do if they want to do well in next year’s qualifying campaign.