By Reece Chambers at the Cardiff City Stadium
Wales ended their UEFA Nations League campaign in a 1-2 defeat to Åge Hareide’s Denmark.
Goals from Nicolai Jorgensen and Martin Braithwaite gave Denmark a two-goal lead before Gareth Bale’s 90th minute goal gave Wales a glimmer of hope.
Ryan Giggs ends his first full competitive campaign in charge of the national side with two wins and two defeats. Whilst his young and promising Welsh side have shown plenty of positives, consecutive defeats to Denmark shows that there is still much to work on.
The first genuine chance of the game fell to James Chester who failed to convert in the air from a delightful David Brooks cross. Left completely unmarked in the area, Chester had just the ‘keeper to beat but his header fell wide of the post from close range.
Only minutes later, David Brooks did terrifically down the right-hand side to carry the ball over 40 yards. His pass to Lawrence gave the Derby County man with little space to muster a chance but his shot tested Kasper Schmeichel who saved well.
On the 25-minute mark, a Danish corner resulted in Joe Allen racing clear on a counter-attack. However, his pass on the break failed to reach Gareth Bale who was in acres of space. Had Allen’s pass reached Bale, the forward would have been clear through on goal.
Wales were then presented with another free header at the back post, this time with Bale missing the chance after a precise Connor Roberts cross. For a player of Bale’s quality, his header was expected to ripple the back of the net. As it was, though, he wasted a terrific opportunity for his side to take the lead.
Denmark should have arguably had a penalty in the 37th minute when Paul Dummett pulled back Yussuf Poulsen on the very edge of the area. The referee had played advantage but the Danish players felt aggrieved that Brooks’ subsequent foul was ignored by the referee.
Seconds later, Denmark went even closer when Thomas Delaney’s header was blocked by Chris Gunter.
After a series of chances, Denmark then took the lead through Nicolai Jorgensen. The striker, along with Delaney and Poulsen, counter-attacked well from a Welsh corner and neat interplay between the three allowed the striker with a simple finish past Hennessey in the Wales goal.
Giggs’ side looked to respond immediately through Bale. However, his shot from the edge of the area was blocked well by a crowded Danish penalty area.
At half time, it was fair to say that Wales were far off of the pace that their last UEFA Nations League home match against the Republic of Ireland had set. Denmark looked far more confident and measured on the ball than the home side and arguably deserved their lead despite two missed chances from Chester and Bale.
Just two minutes into the second half, Brooks was presented with a good chance from Bale’s cross. Despite Bale’s good work down the right, his cross was at an awkward height for Brooks who could only shoot wide.
On the hour mark, David Brooks looked to be the only Welsh attacker to have tested the Danish defence. His dribbling past numerous Danish players was impressive to watch to a certain extent but he was left isolated on a number of occasions.
Shortly after, Tyler Roberts was replaced by Harry Wilson who moved to the right flank, with Bale moving to centre-forward. The change in tactics for Giggs’ side gave Brooks much more time on the ball between Denmark’s defensive lines.
However, it was Denmark who were to have the next big chance. A wonderful reverse pass from Eriksen gave Poulsen the time and space to find the back of the net but he wastefully blazed it over the bar.
With seven minutes left, a fantastic Bale free-kick from around 25 yards was superbly saved by Kasper Schmeichel in the Denmark goal.
Denmark then extended their lead with two minutes to go through Martin Braithwaite. Poor defending in the area gave the striker time and space to slot past Hennessey.
Wales then pulled a goal back immediately through Gareth Bale after a super assist through Ashley Williams split open the Danish defence for Bale to round Schmeichel.
Despite sustained pressure in the dying minutes, Wales were unable to find an equalising goal against a nervy Danish defence.
Defeat for Wales sees them finish their first UEFA Nations League campaign in defeat, with today’s opponents, Denmark, finishing top of the group and being promoted to Group A.