CARDIFF: Wales held Belgium to a 1-1 draw to claim their first point in their UEFA Nations League group campaign after Brennan Johnson scored a late equaliser to cancel out a Youri Tielemans goal in Cardiff on Saturday.
The equaliser was Johnson’s first senior goal for Wales and was followed by a heart-in-mouth moment for the 21-year-old when the linesman’s flag went up for offside.
VAR overturned the decision, however, and the referee awarded the goal, giving Johnson and the team an excuse to celebrate twice.
“It was horrible. Waiting for that celebration, it’s so tense,” Johnson said. “But when I saw the referee point to the centre, it was unbelievable.”
Wales nearly had the perfect start when Ethan Ampadu fired a half-volley into the top corner in the fifth minute but his joy at scoring a first international goal was short-lived after VAR chalked off the effort for an offside in the build-up.
Belgium dominated possession in the first half but it was Wales who created better chances, with Gareth Bale and Connor Roberts both going close to opening the scoring but shooting over.
Belgium’s best chance of the half fell to Leandro Trossard, who fired wide when he had an open net to aim at, while Kevin De Bruyne also tested Wayne Hennessey in goal with a low shot that stung the keeper’s gloves.
However, Belgium pounced five minutes into the second half when a slick passing move down the right finished with Michy Batshuayi patiently holding up the ball in the box before Tielemans arrived and drove his shot into the bottom corner.
But Wales equalised in the 86th minute when Aaron Ramsey’s fine footwork allowed him to find his fellow substitute Johnson who scored with aplomb, with VAR overruling the linesman’s flag after a nervous wait for the home side.
The result still leaves Wales at the bottom of the group at the halfway stage while Belgium are second, three points behind the Netherlands who drew with Poland in Rotterdam.
“We gave everything and I thought we deserved to come away with a point. We’re delighted to come away with a draw,” Wales defender Joe Rodon told Sgorio.
“It was good to finish off strong at home. It’s going to be a tough game on Tuesday.”
Wales play their next game in the Netherlands while Belgium travel to Poland on Tuesday before the curtain comes down on the season.