Wales held by Turkey, miss out on automatic Euros place

Wales will have to take their chances in the playoffs for Euro 2024 after their automatic qualifying hopes were dashed following a 1-1 draw with Turkey in their final Group D game on Tuesday.

Needing to beat Turkey to have a chance of qualifying at the expense of Croatia, who were hosting Armenia, Wales made a dream start as Neco Williams fired them ahead after seven minutes.

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But the mood of euphoria inside the Cardiff City Stadium began to wane with news of a Croatia goal before half-time, with the Welsh fans knowing that even beating Turkey would not be enough if the Croats claimed victory.

Hope then ebbed further away when Yusuf Yazici equalised for the visitors from the penalty spot after 70 minutes.

Wales, whose draw away to Armenia at the weekend took their fate out of their own hands, did have the ball in the net late on but Brennan Johnson's effort was ruled out for offside.

While Turkey were already assured of their place in the Germany showpiece next year, the point made sure they topped the group with 17 points to Croatia's 16 with Wales on 12.

Wales' Ben Davies and Neco Williams leave the field in disappointment after failing to secure an automatic place at Euro 2024.
Wales' Ben Davies and Neco Williams leave the field in disappointment after failing to secure an automatic place at Euro 2024.
Ian Cook - CameraSport via Getty Images)

Once the initial disappointment has subsided, Wales will still have reason for optimism as they will be at home in the one-legged playoff semifinal on March 21.

The will face either Ukraine, who they beat in a playoff decider to reach last year's World Cup, Finland or Iceland. The playoff final would be against Poland or Estonia.

Wales will look back on a qualifying campaign in which they took four points off Croatia but dropped four to Armenia, including a 4-2 home defeat.

"That level of performance [against Turkey] is what we need to do. If we do that when we come back together in March we'll be OK," said Wales manager Robert Page.

"We're disappointed we haven't qualified automatically, but I'm off tomorrow to find out who we've got in the draw for the playoff. We'll get together in March and build on what we saw tonight, and against Croatia [in a 2-1 home win last month]."

Wales had genuine hope of still avoiding the playoffs when Williams cut inside from the left wing and sent a right foot shot into the bottom corner of the net.

The Welsh were the better side in the opening half and had no less then three penalty shouts turned down while Johnson had an effort saved shortly before the interval.

Turkey improved in the second half though and were awarded a soft-looking penalty when Wales skipper Ben Davies was harshly-adjudged to have fouled Kenan Yildiz.

Yazici tucked away the spot kick and the closing stages became bad-tempered as Wales' frustration became evident.

"I've got to be careful what I say. We could have had two penalties and it seemed like a soft penalty. Sometimes it goes for you, sometimes it doesn't," added a disappointed Page.