Kieffer Moore scored the only goal of the game against Estonia on Monday night as Cymru claimed three points to keep the coveted runners-up spot in Group E firmly in the balance.
ESTONIA 0-1 CYMRU
2022 FIFA WORLD CUP - EUROPEAN QUALIFIERS
- Monday, 11 October 2021
- A. Le Coq Arena, Tallinn
Estonia were handed an early blow when captain Konstantin Vassiljev pulled out of the match in the warm-up, but despite Rob Page naming an attacking line-up, it was Cymru goalkeeper Danny Ward who was called into action inside the opening minute to save from Taijo Teniste. The visitors enjoyed the majority of the possession in the early exchanges, while any rhythm was disrupted by the physical approach of Estonia that quickly tested the patience of referee Sandro Schärer.
Estonian goalkeeper Karl Hein denied Cymru in Cardiff last month, and tipped a fine effort from Connor Roberts around the post after 11 minutes. However, a scramble in the area from the resulting corner enabled Kieffer Moore to put his side ahead as he stretched to get the final touch and take the ball over the line. A mistake from Harry Wilson midway through the half almost allowed Sergei Zenjov to level, but Joe Rodon was on hand to block and clear the ball off the line.
Despite Cymru's lead looking comfortable in the main, Estonia remained dangerous during their rare moments in possession, and on 50 minutes Erik Sorga was presented with a free header from a Markus Poom free-kick, but could only direct the ball narrowly over the bar. The heavy treatment continued as Moore was struck in the face by Märten Kuusk just before the hour mark, with the defender receiving a yellow card for his actions.
Moore came close to adding a second on 66 minutes but his effort went narrowly wide of Hein's far post, while his booking for an earlier challenge means he will now miss the qualifier against Belarus in Cardiff next month. Replaced by Mark Harris after suffering an eye injury after 71 minutes, it was another eventful evening for the Cardiff City striker.
On 77 minutes, Estonian substitute Vlasiy Sinyavskiy forced Ward into a fine save as the home side sensed a potential equaliser may not be too far away. Visibly lifted by Cymru's inability to increase their advantage, the game opened up as both sides began to push forward in numbers on the counter-attack, with Hein denying Daniel James from close range. However, Moore's opening half goal would prove to be the difference between the two sides.
Moore goals – A bold attacking line-up from manager Rob Page mirrored his bullish pre-match talk that his side would be looking to take the game to Estonia. With Sorba Thomas and Connor Roberts pushing high in the wide positions to support Harry Wilson, Daniel James and Kieffer Moore, Cymru were always going to create chances despite being held by Estonia in Cardiff last month. Moore opened the scoring with his first goal since his header against Turkey at EURO 2020, but Cymru again became frustrated as they struggled to increase their lead against a stubborn Estonian defence, and his yellow card means the striker will miss the next match.
Sorba rises and shines – It has been a remarkable year for Sorba Thomas having swapped non-league football for the international stage. With his confidence at a premium after his Cymru debut from the bench against the Czech Republic on Friday, the versatile Huddersfield Town favourite made a valuable contribution on the left as he started his first match for Cymru. Quickly establishing himself as a cult hero with the Red Wall, we can expect to see a lot more of Thomas in the colours of his country as his incredible career story continues.
Defensive concentration – A mistake at the back ultimately cost Cymru two points in Prague on Friday, and there was a sense of deja-vu in the opening half when Harry Wilson's misplaced pass across the area handed Sergei Zenjov an avoidable opportunity. Joe Rodon ensured the situation was nothing more than a scare, but such basic errors will prove costly against better sides. However, for all the attacking emphasis in this Cymru starting line-up, a third clean-sheet in the last five games is another positive for Page to take from this latest victory.
The win was primarily what mattered for Cymru having been held by Estonia in Cardiff last month. This was a tough international double-header for Rob Page's side, with the physicality of Estonia coming on the back of a match played in a relentless pace against the Czech Republic on Friday, and the effects began to show in the final exchanges as Estonia sensed an equaliser was there for the taking. However, Cymru held on to keep a clean sheet, and now remain undefeated since the match against Denmark at EURO 2020.
The attacking team selection from Page played to Cymru's strengths, and while other factors meant we didn't quite get to see the best of what this team has to offer, there is still more to come from this team. There would be no better time to produce than in the final two games in Cardiff that will decide the final Group E standings next month, as four points against Belarus and Belgium would guarantee second place.
EUROPEAN QUALIFIERS GROUP
Estonia XI: Hein (GK), Kuusk (c), Pikk (Sinyavskiy 57), Käit (Kallaste 82), Sorga (Kirss 82), Zenjov (Vaštšuk 82), Paskotši, Tamm, Mets, Poom, Teniste (Ojamaa 75) Subs: Igonen (GK), Vallner (GK), Lukka, Pürg
Manager: Thomas Häberli
Cymru XI: Ward (GK), Mepham, Rodon, Allen, Wilson (Johnson 83), Ramsey (c) (Morrell 80), Moore (Harris 71), C.Roberts (Gunter 83), Ampadu, Thomas, James Subs: Hennessey (GK), A. Davies (GK), N. Williams, Lawrence, T. Roberts, J. Williams, Vaulks, Cabang
Manager: Rob Page
Goals: Moore (12)
Referee: Sandro Schärer (SUI) Assistant referees: Stephane De Almeida (SUI) and Bekim Zogaj (SUI) Fourth official: Alain Bieri (SUI) VAR: Fedayi San (SUI) Assistant VAR: Lionel Tschudi (SUI)