Wales 1 Denmark 2: Jorgensen and Braithwaite seal Nations League promotion

The returning Gareth Bale scored in a losing cause for Wales, which was beaten by goals from Nicolai Jorgensen and Martin Braithwaite.

Nicolai Jorgensen (right) celebrates his goal for Denmark against Wales.   -  Michael Steele/Getty Images

Denmark secured promotion to the top tier of the Nations League with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Wales at Cardiff City Stadium on Friday.

Having won the reverse fixture 2-0 in Aarhus, Denmark completed the double over its host thanks to a goal in each half, Nicolai Jorgensen grabbing the first when he converted a one-on-one opportunity in the 42nd minute to finish off a rapid counter.

The visitor defended doggedly after the break before Martin Braithwaite struck late to double its advantage, the Middlesbrough midfielder volleying home after controlling a long throw on his chest.

Gareth Bale - available again after missing the games against Spain and the Republic of Ireland in October - quickly pulled one back for Wales when converting Ashley Williams' long pass over the top, but Wales could not find a leveller during five additional minutes.

The result means Ryan Giggs' side misses out on the chance to guarantee a play-off for Euro 2020, should it fail to reach the tournament during the regular qualifying process, while also relegating Ireland to League C.

It was a disappointing outcome to a record-equalling outing for Chris Gunter too, the Wales defender replacing the injured Paul Dummett in the first half to level Neville Southall's national record of 92 caps.

Wales will look back with regret on its failure to take a series of headed chances in the first half, Bale nodding Connor Roberts' teasing cross wide after James Chester had twice missed the target when picked out by David Brooks.

Denmark made it pay three minutes before the interval, turning defence into attack to break the deadlock. Yussuf Poulsen - who had initially won possession - produced a first-time pass to put Jorgensen in the clear, allowing the Feyenoord striker to tuck a low shot beyond the advancing Wayne Hennessey.

A combination of Schmeichel and the woodwork denied Bale an equaliser, though the Real Madrid forward did eventually find a way to beat the Leicester City goalkeeper, rounding him to slot into an empty net.

It was no more than a consolation effort, though, coming 84 seconds after Braithwaite's emphatic finish had made it 2-0 during a dramatic conclusion to proceedings.


What does it mean? Wales wastes its opportunity

Wales won away to the Republic of Ireland in the Nations League last month without both Bale and Aaron Ramsey, yet the return of the dynamic duo provided a huge boost for the pivotal fixture on home soil. However, a dogged and well-drilled Denmark team stood firm, despite the absence of key defender Simon Kjaer through injury.

Key Opta Facts:
- Wales has now lost two of its last three competitive matches at the Cardiff City Stadium (W1); it had only suffered two defeats in its previous 14 such games at the ground prior to this.
- It has conceded as many goals in its last four international games (eight) as it had in its previous 13 combined.
- Bale has been directly involved in seven goals in his five appearances for Wales in 2018 (five goals, two assists).
- There were just 84 seconds between Braithwaite putting Denmark 2-0 ahead and Bale pulling one back for Wales.
- Jorgensen’s goal was his first for Denmark in over a year, since netting in a World Cup qualifying match against Poland in September 2018, 441 days ago.


What's next?

There will be no pressure now on Denmark when it rounds out the League B Group 4 fixtures with a home game against the Republic of Ireland on Monday, with Wales in friendly action the following day against Albania.

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