Euro 2024 Wales boss Robert Page targets play-offs
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Euro 2024 Wales boss Robert Page targets play-offs after missing out on automatic qualification following a controversial 1-1 draw.

Wales did not qualify automatically because Croatia defeated Armenia 1-0.

Despite Wales leading and the game ending goalless in Zagreb, they were still in contention.

Nevertheless, Matej Jug awarded Turkey a dubious penalty in the second half after rejecting three Wales penalty appeals in the first.

In response to a question about whether Wales would have won with a different referee, Page said: “I believe so.”

According to him, it was one of the most obvious stonewall penalties I’ve ever seen against Brennan [Johnson], and the softest penalty I’ve ever seen.

Despite the frustration, I thought the lads played well.

Wales appealed penalties for a challenge on Harry Wilson by Abdulkerim Bardakci and two challenges on Johnson by Samet Akaydin.

One of Wales’ strongest shouts came at a corner when Akaydin barged into Johnson’s back, although Slovenian referee Jug did not signal a foul.

Yet the decision to award Turkey a penalty was even stranger after Wales captain Davies brushed against Kenan Yildiz. Yusuf Yazici converted the penalty.

It was a tall order for Wales to qualify automatically for the 2022 World Cup as they needed both to beat Group D winners Turkey and also require 2022 World Cup semifinalists Croatia to drop points at home against Armenia, which is 85 places below them in the world rankings.

There is no doubt that things would have been different had Wales not drawn against Armenia last Saturday. It would have been automatic qualification if they had won in Yerevan, and they would have qualified if they had won against Turkey.

In the one-legged play-off semi-final on 21 March, Wales will play either Ukraine, Finland or Iceland.