Joy for Leeds United trio as Whites men play key role in Wales win to reignite Euro 2024 hopes

Three Leeds United stars played their part as Wales beat Croatia 2-1 on Sunday night
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Leeds United winger Dan James provided an assist as Joe Rodon and Ethan Ampadu played the full 90 minutes as Wales beat Croatia 2-1 to reignite their Euro 2024 hopes on Sunday night.

Croatia, ranked sixth in the world, sat three points above Wales ahead of kick off but victory in Cardiff has fired Rob Page’s side into second spot in Group D of UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying. Croatia boost a better goal difference but Wales sit second as groups are first decided on head-to-head records with the sides drawing 1-1 in their first meeting back in March.

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Wales know if they beat Armenia and Turkey next month they will qualify for next summer’s tournament in Germany. Croatia’s final two games are against Latvia and Armenia and Wales will still qualify if they match or better Croatia’s points’ tally.

Harry Wilson was the hero on Sunday night as he scored twice in 13 second-half minutes, with his second goal coming after James had whipped a ball in from the left for the Fulham man to flick a header into the far corner. Mario Pasalic scored with 15 minutes remaining to ensure a nervy finish but Wales held on to keep their fate in their own hands.

James was introduced in the 57th minute, and took only three minutes to make an impact as Rodon and Ampadu played the full game. Ampadu made four tackles in his central midfield role as Rodon played in the middle of a three-man centre-back pairing.

Wales boss Page was under pressure coming into the game but said afterwards: “I would say it’s the best performance (of his three-year reign), I am immensely proud. There was unnecessary noise coming into it, with me fighting fires. I didn’t need any player to speak, I see the players want to play for me.

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“I had a text from the chief executive today, before that, not for five weeks. I just want to concentrate on the football, we are two games away from qualifying for another major tournament, a fourth in five. We believe we can do it. We need to do the same (in November) as we did in this camp.”

The fixture was Wales’ final game of the international break with the Leeds trio involved set to return to West Yorkshire this week as the Whites prepare to visit Norwich City on Saturday afternoon.

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