Gareth Bale was once again the Welsh saviour as his goal secured Wales a point at home against Croatia.

Croatia had led after just nine minutes. When Josip Brekalo beat his man on the left, the ball was worked to Nikola Vlasic and his shot from just outside the box was too good for Wayne Hennessey, going in via the post.

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The Wales goalkeeper did make an impressive save just a few minutes later, though, to divert an Ivan Perisic header around the post.

Wales barely threatened in the first half, but scored in four minutes of added time as Ben Davies, having come infield, seized on a loose ball and slipped in Bale, who fired into the far corner and sent Cardiff into raptures.

The home team looked a little better after the break, but still created very little and a Daniel James shot, on his weaker foot and from a tight angle, was their best opening.

Croatia, who sit top of the group and would have secured their spot at Euro 2020 had they won, looked content to play for the draw.

The result means Wales stay fourth and must win their two remaining games to qualify - but even that might not be enough.

Wales - Croatia

Image credit: Getty Images

TALKING POINT

What are Giggs’ Wales? Granted, Croatia are a difficult team to play against, but Wales looked to be without a plan in this game - and that’s not the first time that’s been the case under Giggs’ stewardship. Bale and James are both terrific talents and great to watch when the ball is at their feet, but they had few opportunities to dribble tonight. Kieffer Moore only looked a factor when the ball was sent in to him at head height, but Wales seemed reluctant to do that despite him producing some good flick-ons. Davies winning a loose ball was what sparked Wales into life, and Bale produced the type of clinical finish that everyone knows he’s capable of, but Wales are capable of more, especially with some of the young talent at Giggs’ disposal. Simply playing these young players isn’t enough and Giggs needs to be sending them out with a clearer identity if Wales are to fulfil their potential.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Gareth Bale (Wales). Wales were blessed that their one clear-cut chance fell to Bale, their best player, who was clinical. His quality shone through in a fractured game and Wales will now be sweating on his fitness for their next games as he limped off late on.

KEY MOMENTS

9’ - GOAL! Wales 0-1 Croatia (Vlasic). Brekalo breezes past Lockyer with some silky footwork, dribbles into the box and then cuts the ball back for Petkovic, who gets it caught under his feet but does well to move it on to Vlasic, who hits a low shot from just outside the box that beats Hennessey, going in off the post.

12’ - SAVE! Petkovic drops deep and, when nothing looks on, plays a brilliant cross for Perisic. The winger ghosts in behind the Welsh defence and heads goalwards, producing a fine save from Hennessey.

45+3’ - GOAL! Wales 1-1 Croatia (Bale). Davies dribbles infield, wins the ball back after a colleague loses it and he then slips in Bale, who takes a couple of touches away from Vida before firing home!

61’ - PENALTY? Bale takes the ball past two Croatian defenders, into the box and then stumbles as he overruns it and makes a little contact with Barisic's outstretched leg, but stays on his feet and the referee lets play continue. Had he gone down, might the outcome have been different?

PLAYER RATINGS

Wales: Hennessey 6, Roberts 6, Lockyer 5, Rodon 6, Davies 7, Ampadu 5, Allen 5, Bale 7, Williams 6, James 6, Moore 5. Subs: Morrell 5, Wilson 6, Roberts n/a.

Croatia: Livakovic 6, Jedvaj 6, Lovren 6, Vida 6, Barisic 6, Kovacic 6, Modric 7, Perisic 6, Vlasic 7, Brekalo 7, Petkovic 6. Subs: Rakitic 6, Rebic 6, Badelj n/a.

KEY STATS

  • In six meetings, Wales have never beaten Croatia.
  • This was Croatia’s 300th international match.
  • Nobody has scored more goals for Wales than Bale’s 33.
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