Robert Page’s side, still on a high after ending a 64-year exile from football’s biggest tournament with a 1-0 play-off win over Ukraine on Sunday, thought they had snatched a last-gasp point against the Netherlands in Cardiff after Sheffield United defender Rhys Norrington-Davies headed home his first international goal in the 92nd minute to cancel out an opening effort from Teun Koopmeiners, drilled in low shortly after half-time.
However, Wales, who rested most of their usual starters for last week’s loss against Poland in Wroclaw in preparation to face Ukraine, were dramatically denied a draw when Burnley frontman Wout Weghorst provided a winning goal exactly 100 seconds later, diving to head in a cross from Tyrell Malacia.
Page again made sweeping changes to his team following Sunday’s exertions, with Gareth Bale restricted to a late cameo appearance and the likes of Aaron Ramsey also rested. Only Ben Davies, Joe Rodon, Connor Roberts and Daniel James retained their starting berths.
Dutch boss Louis van Gaal, meanwhile, made 11 changes from Friday’s thumping win away in Belgium. The Netherlands top Group A4, with Wales rooted to the bottom before they host Belgium next. Roberto Martinez’s resurgent side ran riot against Poland on Wednesday, winning 6-1 in Brussels with Manchester City star Kevin De Bruyne and Brighton’s Leandro Trossard on the scoresheet.
Elsewhere in the Nations League, Scotland kicked off their campaign with a comfortable 2-0 win over Armenia. Anthony Ralston and Scott McKenna both scored their first goals for Steve Clarke’s side, who bounced back from their World Cup play-off semi-final defeat by Ukraine at Hampden Park last week.
McKenna was denied a second by VAR and Aston Villa midfielder John McGinn also hit the crossbar late on, with Scotland creating plenty of chances in a dominant display in Group B1.
In the same group in Dublin, the Republic of Ireland’s woes continued with a 1-0 loss against Ukraine. Half-time substitute Viktor Tsygankov’s 47th-minute free-kick was the decisive moment at the Aviva Stadium, where the visitors made a number of changes after those draining matches against Scotland and Wales.
Stephen Kenny’s Ireland are now winless in 12 Nations League matches, having been stunned by Armenia in Yerevan at the weekend.
They will hope to end a 10-match winless home run - discounting friendlies - when they host Scotland on Saturday, with Ukraine facing Armenia on neutral territory in Lodz, Poland amid the ongoing invasion of their homeland by Russia.