NOW the work starts to make sure it’s not another 64 years for another crack.
Wales failed to take their Qatar World Cup adventure into December after being hammered 3-0 by England.
Gareth Southgate’s side applied the final blows to the campaign at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium yet the damage was done in the other Group B fixtures.
A poor first half in the 1-1 draw against the United Stages and a shocker when Iran deservedly triumphed 2-0 left Robert Page’s side needing a miracle to make the last 16.
Wales finished Group B at Euro 2016 with a 3-0 win over Russia to secure a spot in the knockout stage but only going one goal better than that would be guaranteed secure qualification.
A victory would still leave them waiting for news from Al Thumama Stadium, with a draw between the United States and Iran needed.
At 7pm: hope of a miracle.
At 7.40pm: despair at Christian Pulisic’s opener for the States.
At 8.09pm: belief drained after Marcus Rashford’s free-kick.
At 8.11pm: heading home after Phil Foden’s finish.
At 8.28pm: crushed by Rashford’s second.The Wales team head home along with the Red Wall with the intention of going again at 2026 when frankly it will be a more palatable (albeit bloated) tournament in Canada, Mexico, and the United States.
England progress to face Senegal while the US will take on the Netherlands.
This was Wales’ first World Cup since 1958 and the nagging feeling is that they didn’t show themselves at their best; it was memorable yet one to forget at the same time.
There was no shortage of endeavour or grift but they lacked the snap, clarity and excitement from the two Euros efforts and qualification.
It was a tough group containing four teams from FIFA's top 20 but Wales have faced better and performed more purposefully in recent years.
The international futures of Gareth Bale, who came off at half-time, Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen will be questioned and perhaps the time is now for others, the likes of Ethan Ampadu, Rubin Colwill Brennan Johnson, to take centre stage.
Page made three changes to the XI that faced Iran with Danny Ward starting in goal after Wayne Hennessey’s costly red card when it was goalless in the 2-0 defeat.
Midfielder Allen and forward Dan James got the nod at the expense of Connor Roberts and Harry Wilson, with Wales switching back to a 4-5-1.
England boss Gareth Southgate made four changes with Kyle Walker, Jordan Henderson, Foden and Rashford starting.
It was the English that enjoyed the first opening of the encounter with Harry Kane playing in Rashford but Ward was off his line swiftly to deny the Manchester United man.
Wales were sitting deep and playing with patience, even if that meant the four-goal scenario slipped away as the minutes ticked on.
It remained goalless after half an hour, just as it did in Al Thumama Stadium. Tense and tight times two.
Wales were forced into a change after 35 minutes when Neco Williams, who got his head in the way of a thundering Rashford effort, was helped from the field looking groggy.
That it took 10 minutes for that concussion substitution to be made wasn’t good but there wasn’t much time to contemplate that.
Foden turned and fired high and wide from a promising position in the box in the 38th minute followed by Rashford attempting a bicycle kick that never had Ward worried.
Wales finally gave England something to think about in the fifth minute of added time with a neatly worked throw; most were braced for the ball to be launched towards Moore but it was instead played for Allen to swing a left-footed effort well wide from the edge of the area.
Goalless at the break and an Iran leveller was needed, along with a winner.
That would have to come without Bale after Page opted for a half-time change, swapping his experience but rusty legs for the youthful exuberance of Johnson.
The hope that the Nottingham Forest forward could make the headlines was soon dashed with goals in the 50th and 51st minutes.
First Foden was brought down on the edge of the area and Rashford slammed in the free-kick – Ward’s step to his right costing him dear – and then Ben Davies was caught in possession for Harry Kane to square for Foden.
Wales were heading home yet posed some questions with James firing in a shot/cross that Jordan Pickford allowed to drift wide before the goalkeeper was alert to keep out a deflected effort from distance by Moore.
But slack defending allowed Rashford to get a second when he fired through the legs of Ward after 67 minutes.
The contest was over with benches emptied and it should have been worse for Wales, John Stones shooting over from close range in added time.
The final whistle of a tournament that so many worked so hard for ended up being a blessing for Wales.
Wales: Neco Williams (Roberts 36), Mepham, Rodon, Ben Davies (Morrell 59), Allen (Colwill 81), Ampadu, Bale (Johnson 45), Ramsey, James (Wilson 77), Moore.
Yellow: Ramsey, James.
England scorers: Rashford (2), Foden.