Football world left shattered for Ukraine after heartbreaking scenes

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Ukrainian players and fans, pictured here in tears after their loss to Wales.
Ukrainian players and fans were left in tears after their loss to Wales. Image: Getty

The football world has been left devastated for Ukraine after they missed out on World Cup qualification in a loss to Wales on Sunday.

Ukraine winger Andriy Yarmolenko scored a heartbreaking own goal from a Gareth Bale free kick as Wales won 1-0 to book their ticket to the World Cup.

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Bale swung in a wicked free kick in the 34th minute and Yarmolenko could only divert the ball into his own net with a header.

Wales went on to clinch the victory to break their 64-year World Cup drought - the longest gap between qualifications for the FIFA showpiece for any country.

"It's the greatest result in the history of Welsh football," Bale said.

"I'm just delighted we are going to a World Cup. It means everything, it's what dreams are made of.

"I'm speechless. I'm so glad we've done it for these amazing fans."

Bale was one of those spectators for the remaining 10 minutes or so after being substituted when his body could offer no more.

Oleksandr Zinchenko, pictured here looking dejected as Wales players celebrate.
Oleksandr Zinchenko looks dejected as Wales players celebrate. (Photo by James Gill - Danehouse/Getty Images)

"It was difficult," he said.

"I haven't played too much football these last three or four weeks because of my back spasm, but the most important thing was to get through. I give my all. I was running on empty."

Needless to say the Ukrainians were left devastated after full-time, with players and fans in tears.

The war-torn country was desperate for some rare good news amid Russia's invasion.

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The trip to the World Cup in Qatar gives Bale - British soccer's most decorated foreign export at Real Madrid - a chance to finally play on the sport's biggest stage.

The five-time Champions League winner is without a club for next season after being released by Madrid.

While saying he has "loads" of offers, the 32-year-old free agent had been coy about his playing future.

Now there is a new club to find to stay match fit for the November 21 World Cup opener against the United States. Then there is Iran and neighbours England to play in Group B.

"It's amazing ... It's unbelievable - little old Wales at the World Cup," midfielder Aaron Ramsey said.

Wales players, pictured here celebrating after victory over Ukraine in their FIFA World Cup Qualifier.
Wales players celebrate after victory over Ukraine in their FIFA World Cup Qualifier. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey thwarted nine shots on target to prevent Ukraine from scoring.

"It's absolutely incredible - not just for me, everybody who's been on this pitch tonight," Hennessey said.

Wales' qualification has been achieved despite some coaching uncertainty after Robert Page stepped up to lead the team on a temporary basis in early 2021.

Ryan Giggs still out of the management job while awaiting trial on charges of domestic violence.

Now Page is set to lead the team in Qatar.

"I'm so proud of these boys," Page said.

"They thoroughly deserved that. The one thing they needed was a World Cup and they've got it."

with AAP

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