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Wales 3 (Harding 15, Rowe 33, Fishlock pen 72)
Wales finished their UEFA Euro 2022 qualifying campaign on a winning note with an emphatic 3-0 victory over Belarus at Rodney Parade, but it was not enough to earn themselves a play-off place despite only conceding four times in their eight group matches.
Jayne Ludlow's side went into the match with matters out of their hands and they did all they could on the night, but are left regretting conceding an injury time equaliser to Northern Ireland when the sides met at the same venue last year, which meant they lost out on away goals on the head-to-head basis.
Wales made a flying start to the game and almost took the lead when Ffion Morgan broke down the right and crossed for Natasha Harding whose header was tipped around the post by Nataliya Voskobovich. However just two minutes later, the midfielder was to open the scoring when Rhiannon Roberts' ball from deep into the area was chased down by Jessica Fishlock, who stole the ball as a defender tried to let it run out of play and set up Harding to take a touch, before sliding home.
Morgan was unlucky not to score her first goal for her country as she headed against the post from a Fishlock cross, but just after the half hour, Wales were to double their lead. After exchanging passes with Angharad James inside the area, Rachel Rowe looped her shot over Voskobovich and inside the far post, to take her team into the interval with a two-goal lead.
Wales continued in the same vein at the start of the second half with Roberts and James both having shots charged down, but it was Belarus who to go closer at the other end. Following a foul on Anastasiya Shuppo just outside the area, Anastasiya Shcherbachenia stepped up to fire her shot against the bar.
If the near miss had created any anxiety in the Wales team, they were put firmly to bed when Harding was brought down in the area by Anastasiya Linnik, allowing Fishlock to score her 30th goal for her country from the resulting penalty.
Rowe had a shot saved by Voskobovich but with the three points in the bag, Ludlow was given the opportunity to make a number of substitutions including appearances for Lily Woodham and Georgia Walters. Belarus did hit the woodwork in injury time through Tatyana Krasnova but it was a night of mixed emotions for Wales who produced a fine performance but were left wondering what might have been.
Wales: Laura O'Sullivan, Ffion Morgan (sub Georgia Walters 80mins), Rachel Rowe (sub Kayleigh Green 85mins), Sophie Ingle, Rhiannon Roberts, Josie Green, Hayley Ladd, Angharad James, Charlie Estcourt (sub Lily Woodham 70mins), Jessica Fishlock (sub Gemma Evans 85mins), Natasha Harding (sub Nadia Lawrence 85mins). Subs not used: Claire Skinner, Poppy Soper, Helen Ward, Elise Hughes, Kylie Nolan, Carrie Jones, Chloe Williams.
Belarus: Nataliya Voskobovich, Anastasiya Linnik (sub Anna Sas 89mins), Anastasiya Shcherbachenia (sub Anastasiya Kharlanova 89mins), Anastasiya Novikova, Viktoriya Kazakevich, Anna Kozyupa, Karina Olikhovik (sub Tatyana Krasnova 25mins), Anastasiya Shuppo (sub Milana Surovtseva 72mins), Valeryia Bohdan, Kseniya Kubichnaya (sub Anastasiya Shlapakova 45mins), Anna Pilipenko. Subs not used: Ekaterina Miklashevich, Ekaterina Kovalchuk, Anastasiya Pobegaylo, Vita Nikolaenko, Valeria Karachun.
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