Wales will face Poland for a place at Euro 2024 after beating Finland convincingly in their play-off semi-final in Cardiff.

David Brooks gave the home side the perfect start as he volleyed in on the rebound after Harry Wilson’s shot was saved in the third minute.

Finland controlled large spells of the first half and, although Neco Williams doubled Wales’ lead with a beautiful curling free-kick, the visitors kept themselves in contention as Teemu Pukki finished calmly shortly before the break.

Brennan Johnson settled any creeping Welsh nerves as he tapped in from Brooks’ shot 90 seconds into the second half.

Despite missing chances to add to their lead and having a Ben Davies goal disallowed, Robert Page’s men were comfortable winners as substitute Dan James added a late fourth on his 50th cap.

Wales can now turn their attention to Tuesday’s play-off final against Poland, again played over one leg at Cardiff City Stadium, for the chance to qualify for a third successive European Championship.

Page cut a remarkably relaxed figure in the build-up to this game – despite the high stakes – though there was still the nagging sense that defeat could bring his position under renewed scrutiny.

Any such thoughts quickly disappeared, however, when Wales flew out of the traps to take an early lead.

Wilson found himself free in the Finnish penalty area and his left-footed strike was saved by Lukas Hradecky but only into the path of Brooks, who volleyed in to raise the roof at Cardiff City Stadium.

That goal was instant vindication for Page, who had raised a few eyebrows by selecting Brooks and benching Kieffer Moore, without whom the front three lacked a natural centre-forward.

In selecting Brooks, Wilson and Johnson, Page wanted to stretch the Finns with a fluid front three yet, despite taking the lead, Wales ceded their early momentum.

Finland controlled possession for long periods and, although their advances into the Welsh box did not yield many clear chances, the visitors were arguably the better side for most of the first half.

The Finns’ inability to really test Wales defensively ended up costing them as Page’s men doubled their lead against the run of play.

Johnson led a quick counter-attack and was fouled on the edge of the penalty area, giving Wilson the chance to lay the free-kick off to Williams, whose first-time right-footed shot whistled into the top far corner.

Finland responded well as Pukki latched on to Joel Pohjanpalo’s flicked pass and coolly rolled the ball beyond Danny Ward in the Wales goal.

If that created a sense of anxiety among the home fans, they were feeling much better about life 90 seconds into the second half.

Wilson swung a free-kick towards the back post, where Ethan Ampadu nodded the ball down to Brooks, who helped it on for Johnson to tap in from close range.

Wales had several chances to add to their lead, with Wilson shooting wide and substitute Moore forcing Hradecky into a save.

Kesh Awefada

Kesh Awefada

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