The Czech Republic and Wales remain level on points behind Belgium in World Cup UEFA Qualifying Group E, after a thrilling 2-2 draw in Prague.
Wales took the lead in the 36th minute, after a superb break from a Czech corner led to Aaron Ramsey calmly converting his chance. That lead was immediate wiped out when Jakub Pesek turned in a loose ball from close range two minutes later.
In an open and entertaining second half the Czechs retook the lead within five minutes as Danny Ward failed to control a pass from Ramset and Wales conceded an own goal. Daniel James equalised with a smart finish 20 minutes later, and Wales missed two good late chances to secure the victory.
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Wales have a game in hand on the Czechs in the race for a play-off place, and now travel to Tallinn to face Estonia on Monday.
TALKING POINT
How valuable will that point be? Wales left Prague with a point, but they could so easily have had all three. Robert Page sensed it towards the end, urging his players forwards, but his team fell just short of securing an away win over their rivals for a play-off spot.
Defensive errors pegged Wales back, as they conceded immediately after taking the lead and then handed the advantage to the Czechs with a disastrous own goal early in the second half. They recovered admirably from the shock of that second goal and will rue their failure to convert the chances and openings after James’s equaliser.
Wales have their destiny is in their own hands, but their final group game at home to a Belgian side that will have almost certainly qualified is starting to look like it will be decisive. There’s a long way to go in Group E yet.
MAN OF THE MATCH – Aaron Ramsey (Wales)
With Gareth Bale absent it was imperative that Ramsey stepped up tonight, and he did just that. In a team depleted by absences he delivered a performance of calm assurance, capped with a smartly taken goal that gave Wales the lead in the first half. His own goal wasn’t his doing, but this point in Prague for Wales had his fingerprints all over it.
PLAYER RATINGS
Czech Republic (4-3-2-1): Vaclik 7; Mateju 6, Celustka 6, Kalas 6, Novak 6; Soucek 7, Kral 6; Pesek 7, Barak 7, Hlozek 6; Schick 7
SUBS: Vydra 6, Sadilek 5, Kuchta 6, Wiesner 6, Zmrhal 6
Wales (5-3-2): Ward 5; Gunter 7, Mepham 6, Rodon 6, Williams 6; Ampadu 5, Ramsey 8, Allen 6, Morrell 6; James 7, Moore 7
SUBS: Connor Roberts 7, Wilson 7, Thomas 6, Tyler Roberts 6
KEY MOMENTS
18’ OH WHAT A CHANCE! The Czechs break on Wales, but Hlozek's shot from the edge is blocked. Wales then spring immediately on the Czechs and they've got a two on one! James slides Moore into the area, but it's a poor ball; too far ahead of Moore, who tries to slide it past Vaclik who is out like lightning to make a reflex save and keep it goalless.
36’ GOAL! Czech Republic 0 Wales 1 (Ramsey 36) What a huge goal for Wales! From the Czech corner Wales break immediately and find Williams on the right in the Czech half. His cross-cum-pass misses James on the penalty spot, but lands at the feet of Ramsey at the back stick. He calmly controls it, sits Vaclik down and strokes it into the far corner.
38’ GOAL! Czech Republic 1 (Pesek 38) Wales 1 Crikey, the Czechs are level! A flipped ball into the area from the left gives Novak the chance from a wide angle. He shoots across Ward, who can only palm the ball out. Williams slips over before he can clear, and Pesek taps the ball into an empty net!
49’ GOAL! Czech Republic 2 (Ramsey o.g. 49) Wales 1 Oh my, what a nightmare for Ward. Ramsey wins the ball in midfield and passes it back to his goalkeeper. It's got pace on it but not an excessive amount and Ward miscontrols the ball with the outside of his foot before watching on in horror as it trickles behind him and his despairing attempt to slide and hook it clear can't stop the ball creeping into the corner of the net off the post. That's a disaster for Wales.
69’ GOAL! Czech Republic 2 Wales 2 (James 69) Well, well, Wales are level! Wilson picks the ball up 40 yards from goal, strides forward unopposed, and slides a lovely pass through the inside right channel to James. He's clean through, and shoots across Vaclik and into the far corner to level it up!
71’ CHANCE! Wilson's at at again, turning on the edge of the Czech box and poking a deft pass through to Ramsey on the right. He's in, and opts for a toe bunger that Vaclik clears with his feet. What a game we've got on now.
75’ CHANCE! Wales should be ahead. Ramsey crosses to the back post, where Moore rises. He heads it back across goal, where the ball somehow goes wide of the post and past the lunging Ramsey and out. That was an open net!
KEY STAT
  • Aaron Ramsey’s goal was his 19th for Wales, drawing him level with Craig Bellamy in sixth on their all-time scorers list for the men’s team.
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