Wales to face Poland in Euro 2024 play-off final after brushing Finland aside

Sailing through: Neco Williams netted a wonderful free-kick as Wales made light work of Finland in Cardiff (AP)
Sailing through: Neco Williams netted a wonderful free-kick as Wales made light work of Finland in Cardiff (AP)

Wales will face Poland for a place at the Euro 2024 finals this summer.

The two sides will go head to head in Cardiff in Tuesday night’s huge ‘Path A’ showpiece in the European Championship play-offs after easily seeing off Finland and Estonia in their respective one-sided semi-final ties.

Wales brushed aside Finland 4-1 in another rousing victory in a high-stakes game amid a brilliant atmosphere on home soil, with David Brooks and Brennan Johnson netting early in each half of Thursday night’s clash to break their opponents’ resolve.

Neco Williams also notched a brilliant free-kick and substitute Dan James punished a woeful error late on as Rob Page’s side eased through despite Teemu Pukki’s smart low effort on the stroke of half-time, with captain Ben Davies also seeing a header ruled out for offside against fellow defender Joe Rodon.

Wales will surely face a much sterner test of their credentials on Tuesday as they seek to qualify for a major tournament via the play-offs at home for the second time in a row, with Poland thrashing Estonia to seal their own place in the final.

Przemyslaw Frankowski, Piotr Zielinski, Jakub Piotrowski and Sebastian Szymanski were all on target in Warsaw to go along with an own goal from Karol Mets, with Estonia facing a huge uphill battle after the dismissal of young defender Maksim Paskotsi for two yellow-card offences before the half-hour mark.

Martin Vetkal’s late effort proved a mere consolation for the visitors, who have never qualified for a major tournament in their history and now instead will play fellow semi-final losers Finland in a friendly on Tuesday night.

The winner of the blockbuster showdown between Wales and Poland, meanwhile, will be placed alongside France, the Netherlands and Austria in Group D at Euro 2024, opening their campaign against the Dutch in Hamburg on June 16.

Elsewhere in Thursday night’s play-off semi-final matches, Ukraine sealed their spot in the final of ‘Path B’ after late goals from Roman Yaremchuk and Artem Dovbyk inspired a dramatic turnaround to see off Bosnia and Herzegovina, who had led through Mykola Matviyenko’s early second-half own goal in Zenica.

Ukraine - beaten by Wales in their 2022 World Cup play-off final in Cardiff two years ago - will meet Iceland in Wroclaw on Tuesday after a hat-trick from Genoa’s Albert Gudmundsson and further effort from Arnor Ingvi Traustason secured a 4-1 win over Israel in Budapest. Israel had initially taken the lead in that tie through Eran Zahavi’s first-half penalty before falling to a heavy defeat.

In ‘Path C’, Budu Zivzivadze’s brace saw Georgia past Luxembourg in the early kick-off in Tbilisi before Gus Poyet’s Greece then thrashed Kazakhstan 5-0 courtesy of goals from Anastasios Bakasetas, Dimitrios Pelkas, Fotis Ioannidis, Dimitrios Kourbelis, plus an own goal from Yerkin Tapalov. Georgia will host Greece in their final in Tbilisi on Tuesday as they bid to reach the finals of a major tournament for the very first time.