Video: Wales relegated and France flop as Virgil van Dijk secures Netherlands win

Luka Modric of Croatia tackles Christoph Baumgartner of Austria during the UEFA Nations League League A Group 1 match between Austria and Croatia at Ernst Happel Stadion on September 25, 2022 in Vienna, Austria.

Virgil van Dijk scored a late winner against Belgium on Sunday night to secure the Netherlands’ spot at next June’s Nations League finals.

The Liverpool defender nodded home in the 73rd minute to secure a 1-0 win in Amsterdam. The Netherlands will be joined in the four-team tournament by Croatia, who scored twice in the second-half to confirm a 3-1 victory against Austria in Vienna.

Austria’s Christoph Baumgartner cancelled out Luka Modric’s early opener for the visitors before Marko Livaja and Dejan Lovren struck to ensure Croatia finished top of Group A1. Their win spared France’s blushes, as they would’ve been relegated had Austria won.

The defending champions were defeated 2-0 by Denmark in Copenhagen thanks to goals from Kasper Dolberg and Andreas Skov Olsen. The other two finalists will be determined after Monday’s and Tuesday’s fixtures. Here is rest of Sunday’s action…

Group C results make little difference

Turkey suffered a 2-1 defeat to the Faroe Islands in Torshavn but still finished top of Group C1 to secure promotion. Goals from Viljormur Davidsen and Joan Simun Edmundsson gave the winners a 2-0 lead before Serdar Gurler’s late strike pulled a goal back.

The other game in Group C1 saw Luxembourg beat Lithuania 1-0 at home, with Gerson Rodrigues scoring the winner. That result made little difference, as Lithuania’s relegation play-out spot had already been confirmed after picking up just a single point.

Only two of the bottom four teams in the third tier will go down. Lithuania’s play-out opponents are yet to be confirmed. Belarus will also compete in that mini-tournament after finishing bottom of Group C. Like Lithuania, their fate was confirmed before Sunday.

Belarus’ final fixture was against Slovakia in Serbia, which ended in a 1-1 draw. Adam Zrelak’s second-half equaliser cancelled out Ivan Bakhar’s opener and secured a point for Slovakia. The other game in Group C3 saw Azerbaijan beat Kazakhstan 3-0 in Baku.

Second-half goals from Aleksandr Marochkin, Filip Ozobic and Anatoliy Nuriyev confirmed the victory after Nuraly Alip was dismissed before the interval for the visitors. Yet the result didn’t matter too much, as Kazakhstan had already secured promotion.

In Group D1, Latvia booked their spot in the third tier by picking up a point in Andorra. Vladislavs Gutkovskis opened the scoring for the visitors before Albert Rosas’ late goal made it 1-1. Moldova defeated Liechtenstein 2-0 in Chisinau in Group D1’s other game.

Wales 0-1 Poland

Robert Lewandowski showed his class on Sunday night, as he helped condemn Wales to relegation in the Nations League.

Wales were given a rousing send-off in Cardiff in their final game before their first World Cup since 1958, but Poland ripped up the script to leave Wales without a win in five games for the first time since June 2017. It meant Robert Page’s side finished bottom of Group A4 and will drop into the second tier.

Barcelona ace Lewandowksi didn’t add to his 76 international goals, but he did produce a sublime pass to assist Karol Swiderski in the 57th minute. Wales gave a start to their own talisman Gareth Bale, but he was denied by the woodwork late on for the hosts, who went down 2-1 in Belgium four days earlier.

Wales tried everything to tee up a special night in front of their own fans, but too often their final ball was poor – especially in the last third. Before kick-off, Michael Sheen’s inspirational speech for Wales from ‘A League of their Own’ was shown on the big screen.

Wales needed all the help they could get without the injured quartet of Ben Davies, Joe Allen, Aaron Ramsey and Harry Wilson – while Chris Mepham and Ethan Ampadu also missed the match at the Cardiff City Stadium through suspension.

Poland were also preparing for the World Cup where they will face Argentina, Saudi Arabia and Mexico. The visitors were solid rather than spectacular, as they had their first effort on target in the 25th minute when Lewandowski tested Wayne Hennessey from a free-kick. Lewandowski is Poland’s record scorer but this effort was easy for Hennessey.

Wales threatened in the 32nd minute when Dan James broke free, but Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny saved with his legs. The hosts also had a chance when Connor Roberts found Bale in the box from a throw-in, but the striker’s angled effort was saved.

At the other end, Hennessey was also called into action to stop a Piotr Zielinkski effort. But the closest the visitors came to scoring in the first half was when Hennessey miss-controlled Joe Rodon’s backpass and the keeper had to make a goal-line clearance.

For Wales, Brennan Johnson – who has cemented his place in the team this campaign – had a shot deflected wide from the top of the box as the game opened up.

Poland took the lead after a brilliant flick by Lewandowski unlocked the home defence for Swiderski to fire in under Hennessey’s legs. Wales tried to hit back quickly as Johnson almost curled in a low left-foot shot which Szczesny pushed pas the post.

Boss Page threw on giant target man Kieffer Moore and Bale dropped into a deeper role where he had more influence. It enabled Bale to get on the ball more and release Wales’ wide men. Szczesny also had to dramatically push James’ curling cross around the post.

But the visitors held out as Bale saw a late header hit the bar. Wales’ biggest plus was at least LAFC forward Bale, 33 – who had not lasted an entire match for club or country since their goalless draw with Estonia in September 2021 – completed 90 minutes.

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