Wales beat Belarus 3-0 but missed out on qualification for the European Women’s Championship in 2022 as the Faroe Islands failed to deliver an upset in Northern Ireland.
First-half goals from Natasha Harding and Rachel Rowe and a Jess Fishlock penalty saw Wales end their Group C campaign in style at Rodney Parade.
But Wales knew their finals dream rested on the Faroe Islands producing a football miracle in Belfast, with Northern Ireland starting the night in second spot thanks to a superior head-to-head record over the Dragons.
The Faroe Islands had failed to score in six group games while conceding 37 goals and, yet remarkably with the game in Belfast kicking off 10 minutes earlier, led Northern Ireland as the Wales players took to the pitch in Newport.
That was as good as it got for Wales, however, as Northern Ireland swiftly equalised and romped home 5-1 to book a play-off spot by finishing second to runaway group winners Norway.
Wales manager Jayne Ludlow had been boosted before kick-off by Fishlock and Harding promising to extend their careers into the 2023 World Cup qualifying campaign.
Harding had already forced Belarus goalkeeper Nataliya Voskobovich into early action before the two veterans combined after 14 minutes to give Wales the lead.
Fishlock did well to reach the byline and cut the ball back for Harding, who finished at the second attempt after scuffing her initial effort.
Wales captain Sophie Ingle tested Voskobovich from 25 yards and Ffion Morgan headed Fishlock’s cross against a post following another sweeping home move.
Rowe doubled Wales’ lead after 34 minutes after playing a one-two with Angharad James and sending a superb curled effort past Voskobovich and into the far corner of the net.
It was Rowe’s second goal for Wales with her first coming in the 1-0 away win in Belarus in October 2019.
Belarus’ only first-half effort was a tame attempt from Anastasiya Shcherbachenia, but the visitors’ captain was inches away from halving the deficit after 58 minutes.
Shcherbachenia’s powerful 20-yard free-kick struck the underside of the crossbar and Anastasiya Novikova and Viktoriya Kazakevich failed to bundle in the rebound.
Wales made their most of their reprieve as Anastasiya Linnik tripped Harding after 71 minutes.
Fishlock comfortably converted her 30th international goal from the spot, and her first for three years, but Wales’ qualification hopes had long since disappeared.
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