Wales 1 Denmark 2: Jorgensen and Braithwaite seal Nations League promotion

The returning Gareth Bale failed to inspire Wales, who were beaten by goals from Nicolai Jorgensen and Martin Braithwaite.

Denmark secured promotion to the top tier of the Nations League with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Wales on Friday.

Having won the reverse fixture 2-0 in Aarhus, Denmark completed the double over their hosts thanks to a goal in each half, Nicolai Jorgensen grabbing the first when he converted a one-on-one opportunity in the 42nd minute to finish off a rapid counter.

The visitors defended doggedly before Martin Braithwaite struck late to double their advantage, the Middlesbrough midfielder volleying home with two minutes left of the 90.

Gareth Bale - available again after missing the games against Spain and the Republic of Ireland in October - quickly pulled one back for Wales when converting Ashley Williams' long pass over the top, but Ryan Giggs' side could not find a leveller in five additional minutes.

The result means they miss out on the chance to guarantee a play-off for Euro 2020, should they fail to reach the tournament during the regular qualifying process, while also relegating Ireland to League C.

It also ruined a record-equalling outing for Chris Gunter, the Wales defender replacing the injured Paul Dummett in the first half to level Neville Southall's national record of 92 caps.

The hosts will look back with regret on their failure to take a series of headed chances in the first half, Bale nodding Connor Roberts' teasing cross wide after James Chester had twice missed the target when picked out by the impressive David Brooks.

Denmark made them pay three minutes before the break, turning defence into attack to break the deadlock. Yussuf Poulsen - who had initially won possession - produced a first-time pass to put Jorgensen in the clear, allowing the Feyenoord striker to tuck a low shot beyond the advancing Wayne Hennessey.

A combination of Schmeichel and the woodwork denied Bale an equaliser, though the Real Madrid forward did eventually find a way to beat the Leicester City goalkeeper, rounding him to tuck home into an empty net.

It was no more than a consolation effort, though, coming rapidly after Braithwaite's emphatic finish from Henrik Dalsgaard's cross had given Denmark daylight in a dramatic conclusion.

 

What does it mean? Wales waste their opportunity
Wales won away to the Republic of Ireland in the Nations League last month without both Bale and Aaron Ramsey, the return of the dynamic duo providing a huge boost for the pivotal fixture on home soil. However, a dogged and well-drilled Denmark team stood firm, despite the absence of key defender Simon Kjaer through injury.

Brooks outshines Bale
It was a disappointing outcome for the hosts, but Brooks' performance was a highlight amid the gloom. The Bournemouth midfielder looked the most likely to make something happen for Wales, creating four chances for his team-mates while also attempting three shots at goal himself.

Chester feels the pain
Brooks' left foot twice teed up Chester in the first half, yet the defender fluffed his lines. The first chance was the better of the two, yet the centre-back glanced a free header beyond the post. To make matters worse for Chester, he had to be taken off after the break due to a leg injury.

What's next?
There will be no pressure now on Denmark when they round out the League B Group 4 fixtures with a home game against the Republic of Ireland on Monday, with Wales in friendly action the following day against Albania.