By Gareth James
Aaron Ramsey praised Wales’ resilience after keeping World Cup qualification “in our hands” with a hard-fought 1-0 victory in Estonia.
Kieffer Moore settled a physical contest in Tallinn, prodding home from close range in the 12th minute after Ramsey saw his goal-bound header blocked on the line.
Wales remain third in Group E, level on points with the Czech Republic who beat Belarus 2-0 in Kazan.
The Czechs have superior goal difference and have scored more goals than Wales – the two deciding factors in the event of a tie.
So, Wales probably require four points from their closing home games against Belarus and Belgium to finish second, although they are almost certainly guaranteed a World Cup play-off spot anyway due to their Nations League success.
To battle through the play-offs, Wales will need to win two further matches – a semi-final and then a final, within a knockout group of four.
“It was just important to come here and get the three points,” Wales captain Ramsey told Sky Sports.
“We’ve managed to do that and now we can prepare for the games in November.
🗣 “The celebrations are cranked up for Wales!”
Kieffer Moore opens the scoring against Estonia 🏴
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) October 11, 2021
“It’s all in our hands and we’ll be back at home in front of our home support, and hopefully put in two great performances.”
Wales started brightly against opponents who, although ranked 111th in the world, had frustrated them in a Cardiff stalemate last month.
Connor Roberts saw his fine curling effort saved before Cardiff target man Moore poked home his seventh international goal from a yard out.
Moore was later booked and will miss Belarus’ visit to Cardiff on November 13.
Ramsey, who was not as effective as he had been during Friday’s 2-2 draw in the Czech Republic, said: “The first 30 minutes we did pretty well and got into some dangerous areas.
“The second half wasn’t good enough but it showed the resilience of this team again and we came away with the three points.
“It’s not always easy coming away with a second game in quick succession but it shows the team we’ve got to get the win.
“It was one of those performances we needed to dig in and grind out a result.
🗣 “Ward with a super save!”
Will Wales hang on against Estonia? 🏴
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) October 11, 2021
“It just shows the team we’ve got coming away with the three points. That’s the most important thing.
“Something changed in the second half and it was just one of those days where we needed to dig in. Danny Ward made a brilliant save to keep us in the lead. Fair play to the boys for grinding it out tonight.”
Manager Robert Page said Wales now face “two cup finals” at the Cardiff City Stadium after picking up four points on their travels.
“I think it’s been a great camp for us,” said Page, who is hopeful that talisman skipper Gareth Bale will be available next month after hamstring trouble.
“It’s never easy to come away with the two games we’ve had with a young squad that is still learning.
“We’ve got two cup finals left and that’s how we’re going to treat it.
“We want all our players available and I’m sure every player will be because they will all want to be involved. We can’t wait.
“It would have been disappointing not to have won here because it would have been an anti-climax next month.
Robert Page upbeat over Gareth Bale fitness: “He’s progressing the way we would wish and as it stands right now we’re confident we’ll have him for November.” 🏴
— Phil Blanche (@philblanche) October 11, 2021
“Mathematically, we still could have done it, but this sets it up nicely now. It’s two cup finals, at home with a full house – bring it on.”
Fresh from their impressive 2-2 draw in the Czech Republic, Moore gave Wales the lead on 11 minutes when turning home from close range after Ramsey’s header was cleared.
The second goal though did not come for Page’s men, who dropped deeper in the second half and allowed Estonia plenty of territory.
However, goalkeeper Danny Ward, who made a glaring error in Prague, stood strong in the Wales goal, making three saves from Estonia’s 10 attempts.
Wales are unbeaten in their four meetings with Estonia (W3 D1), only enjoying bigger 100% unbeaten records against Azerbaijan (8), Israel and Luxembourg (6 each).
Estonia have won just won of their last 20 competitive fixtures, losing 14 and drawing five.
Wales are unbeaten in four games away from home (W2 D2), their longest run without a defeat on the road since October 2017 under Chris Coleman (5 games in that run – W2 D3).
Wales have only lost twice in their last 18 World Cup qualifying matches (W8 D8), with those defeats coming against Republic of Ireland in October 2017 (0-1) and Belgium in March 2021 (1-3).
— Mark Pitman (@UEFAcomMPitman) October 11, 2021
Since his international debut in September 2019, Kieffer Moore has scored seven goals for Wales, three more than any other Welsh player in that time.
Five of Kieffer Moore’s seven international goals have come outside of Wales, with the Welsh unbeaten in the seven games overall Moore has scored in (W5 D2).
Wales host Belarus on Saturday November 13 (kick-off 7.45pm) before ending their World Cup Qualifying campaign at home to Belgium three days later.
Estonia visit Belgium on Saturday November 13 before facing Czech Republic in Prague.