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Wales 4 Finland 1: Dragons one game away from Euro 2024 as David Brooks leads demolition job against Finns

WALES are one game away from yet another major tournament after Rob Page’s forward-thinking gamble paid off.

The Dragons boss took the surprise decision to leave out giant striker Kieffer Moore who has often been his man for the big occasion.

Neco Williams first half screamer put Wales on their way to the playoff final

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Neco Williams first half screamer put Wales on their way to the playoff finalCredit: Getty
Dan James put the cherry on top with the fourth

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Dan James put the cherry on top with the fourthCredit: AFP

Yet the three who got the nod – Brennan Johnson, Harry Wilson and David Brooks – all played their part in getting the first part of the job done.

Having taken care of the Finns, the question now is can they apply the finishing touches on Tuesday night.

Only Robert Lewandowski and Poland stand between Wales and a third straight trip to the Euros .

They are using a ‘get out of jail card’ having got into the play offs via their Nations League record – but the Red Wall will not care one bit if it gets them to Germany.

And the fact they are back here again on Tuesday night means they have a golden chance of reaching a fourth major tournament in the last five attempts.

The Dragons have now lost only three of their last 20 games in front of their own fans in Cardiff and will be full of confidence. 

If Page had any doubts about his decision to leave out Moore, they were soon blown away as within three minutes it looked an inspired move.

Johnson flicked into the path of Wilson who burst clear but saw his shot pushed away by Finnish keeper Lucas Hradecky.

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Yet Brooks was on hand to steer home the rebound for his fourth goal for his country – and the home side had the start they dreamed of.

Finland had shown they are no pushovers by chalking up 18 points in their Euro 2024 qualifying group – which was only enough for them to end up in joint third.

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And they worked their way back into the game with Daniel Hakans firing over after Wales failed to clear their lines.

Former Norwich forward Teemu Pukki got clear of the Dragons defence but fired straight at Danny Ward – while Joel Pohjanpalo saw an effort blocked blocked.

The visitors were enjoying most of the ball so it was against the run of play as the home side doubled their lead after Johnson was fouled on the edge of the box.

It looked perfect for Wilson to try his luck but instead the Fulham man rolled it into the path of Neco Williams who curled a beauty into the top corner from 20 yards.

Eat your heart out Gareth Bale.

Wales had clear daylight and fans were dreaming of packing their bags for Germany this summer.

But the visitors probably felt hard done by to be two goals behind and they pulled one back on the stroke of half-time.

Pohjanpalo flicked a pass through to Pukki who raced clear and beat Ward with a clever finish – with a VAR check confirming he was just onside.

He may be 33 now and plying his trade for Minnesota United in the MLS – but a 40th international goal is some haul.

The interval came at a perfect time for Page’s men and whatever he said to them at the break worked a treat.

Within two minutes a Wilson free-kick was nodded across goal by Ethan Amapdu – winning his 50th cap for his country.  

It found Brooks whose effort was going wide but Johnson was there to poke in at the back post. 

It was a first goal for his country in almost two years for the Spurs man – but what a vital one it was. 

Brooks’ hand in the goal turned out to be his last involvement for the on loan Southampton man as Moore was thrown on with half an hour remaining.

Wilson could have put the seal on the victory as he found space but curled a shot inches wide – while Moore fired an effort straight at the keeper soon afterwards.  

Ben Davies saw a goal ruled out for offside – but they were gifted a fourth to finally end any doubts four minutes from time.

Miro Tenho took far too long in clearing a long ball forward and sub Dan James nipped in to mark his 50th cap in perfect fashion.

Remind yourself how the game went with our live blog below.

  • Kick-off time: 7:45pm GMT
  • Live stream: BBC iPlayer

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