Aaron Ramsey hopes Cardiff crowd gives Wales an edge in World Cup play-offs

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Aaron Ramsey stressed the importance of home advantage as Wales booked a World Cup play-off semi-final date in Cardiff.

Wales went into their final qualifier against Belgium needing a point to secure a home tie unless Turkey won their last game by four clear goals.

But Turkey could only win 2-1 in Montenegro and Wales’ 1-1 draw with Belgium, the world’s top-ranked side, clinched a home semi-final game in March.

Kieffer Moore earned Wales a vital point
Kieffer Moore earned Wales a vital point (David Davies/PA)

“There’s some big, big teams still in it, but it’s so important that we had a home tie,” Ramsey told Sky Sports.

“You could see the atmosphere here tonight, it’s a special place to come and play.

“So hopefully that will give us an extra edge in that play-off.”

Wales have lost only one competitive game at home since being beaten by the Republic of Ireland in qualifying for the 2018 World Cup exactly four years ago. Denmark won 2-1 at Cardiff in a Nations League game in November 2018.

After Kieffer Moore had cancelled out Kevin De Bruyne’s early effort, Ramsey said: “It’s massive. Full credit to the boys. They put in a massive shift again against top opposition, so full credit.

“We always believed we could get a result, especially at home with our fans here. It’s another good night for us.”

Manager Rob Page admitted he had tears in his eyes after the final whistle.

He said: “I was a wreck. It was an emotional time of just telling the players how proud I am.

Wales boss Rob Page was emotional after the game
Wales boss Rob Page was emotional after the game (David Davies/PA)

“I couldn’t be any more proud of that group of men, to give that level of performance off the back of Saturday’s performance (a 5-1 victory over Belarus) as well.

“We knew we needed to score goals on Saturday because it might come down to goal difference, but we went out for the win here.

“Even late on, 15, 20 minutes to go, we weren’t happy just sitting on a point.

“We wanted to go and get the win, and credit has to go the players, they were outstanding.”

Kevin De Bruyne gave Belgium the lead
Kevin De Bruyne gave Belgium the lead (David Davies/PA)

Belgium had booked their place at next year’s World Cup in Qatar by beating Estonia on Saturday.

Head coach Roberto Martinez said: “It’s fair to say when Wales are at home, they’ve got an extra threat.

“It makes a big difference for Wales now to go into the play-offs and be able to play at home.

“I would say without the crowd that maybe we don’t concede that goal.

“Every time the ball goes into the box or every time the ball goes to a certain player’s feet, those emotions can give you an extra step.

“For us, that’s why it was so good to see our young players able to cope in that environment.

“We can take a lot of information out of the way that we performed in such a beautiful, hostile atmosphere.”

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