Estonia 0 Wales 1
There aren’t many forwards like Kieffer Moore in the international game, and the reality of life as a 6-foot-5 point-elbow giant is that you can sometimes baffle the referees as much as the defenders of the game. ‘opposition. The Welsh target man can be difficult to understand and neither officials nor the Estonian defense have shown themselves capable of doing so on an edgy but ultimately satisfying evening for his country.
A goal, a bloody nose, a blurry eye and a yellow card that excludes him from the next match: it was a hell of a night for the former rescuer who became the most dangerous scorer in his country. The main takeaway, however, is that Moore remains a unique threat on the international stage, and his winner here could prove crucial in his team’s pursuit for a place in next year’s World Cup.
But there was also another reminder of the challenges he faces with European referees, as he was once again penalized for allegedly using his elbows as he leapt for the ball. This has been a frequent problem for Moore in international football and his absence from the next game against Belarus is of great concern. Without him Wales are just a different side – and not in a good way.
Moore’s early goal ensured the success of this trip to Tallinn for Wales, whose World Cup fate remains in their hands despite a difficult performance overnight. Against an Estonian team that seemed desperate to turn this into a slogging match, they took a bait and largely failed to demonstrate their top soccer class.
Still, you don’t earn any points for style at this point in a qualifying campaign. Wales had actually produced one of their best offensive performances in years on Friday, in their draw with the Czech Republic, but they left Prague with just one point to show. Here they lacked offensive cohesion and midfield stability for much of the night, but took all three thanks to Moore’s tap-in.
The Cardiff City striker’s approach may not be as pleasing to the eye as the more glamorous Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey, but his effectiveness is beyond doubt. Opposition defenders usually need at least 20 minutes to figure out the man’s size, and his goal here was his seventh for Wales since his September 2019 debut. No Welshman has scored more during this period.
“I am devastated that he got the reservation,” said Rob Page, Wales manager. “He is not often protected. It’s frustrating, and when Kieffer has three big crosses on him he needs a little bit of protection.
As for the offense that cost Moore his place in the upcoming game against Belarus, the forward was as confused as anyone. “I put my arms next to me,” he said. “I am super conscious every time I go for an aerial challenge. In internationals, the referees never really give you too much leeway.
Time will tell how damaging his absence could be for Wales. For now, victory on a freezing night in Tallinn means they remain tied on points with the Czechs, but with a potentially crucial game in hand as they battle for second in the group and a subsequent play-off. .
“I firmly believe it’s in our hands,” said Page, whose team will meet Belarus and Belgium in Cardiff next month. “We have two huge games now. Belgium’s game is going to be difficult, but I want us to get something out of it.
The Wales winner arrived after just 12 minutes, when a scramble for goal ended with Moore pushing the ball over the line. Other than that, however, there were little clear chances for a visiting team intending to play smooth attacking football.
A series of small faults slowed the game down and Wales lost control after the break as they were indebted to the sharp reflexes of goalkeeper Danny Ward. Erik Sorga, Matthias Kait and Vlasiy Sinyavsky all threatened for Estonia, but Ward remained vigilant as he helped his team achieve a lousy but potentially valuable result.
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