Wales held Belgium to a 1-1 draw to secure second place behind the world number one in Group E who qualified for the World Cup in Cardiff on Tuesday.
Kieffer Moore canceled Kevin de Bruyne’s early opener to earn the Welsh the point they needed to stay ahead of the Czech Republic, which defeated Estonia.
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Despite already securing a place in the March play-offs thanks to their Nations League results, second place in the group means Robert Page’s side can enjoy a more favorable draw in the semi-finals.
Wales more than matched Belgium, especially in the second half, and Neco Williams was denied a spectacular late goal when his powerful effort was saved by visiting keeper Koen Casteels.
Belgium, who won the group by 20 points, seemed content to stick with their long unbeaten run in the World Cup qualifiers, which now stretch to 28 games.
Wales, who have not lost a home qualifier in four years, are trying to reach the World Cup final for the first time since 1958 and will at least know they can’t play Italy or Portugal in their semi-finals of the play-offs.
“It’s huge. Kudos to the boys, they’ve made another huge shift against the top opposition,” said Wales captain Aaron Ramsey. “There are still some big, big teams in it, but it was so important that we had a draw.”
Things didn’t start well for Wales and it took Belgium just 12 minutes to get ahead, with De Bruyne clinically firing a right footed shot inside the post after an attempt by Axel Witsel bounced off a Welsh defender.
Belgium seemed in the mood to let Wales suffer and De Bruyne lost an opportunity after a mistake by Ben Davies.
But Wales unexpectedly tied the score as Daniel James showed great perseverance on the left to eventually play a cross to Moore who pushed a shot past Casteels.
Belgium almost took the lead before half time when De Bruyne fired a free kick off Thorgan Hazard, whose first volley hit the crossbar.
Roberto Martinez’s side continued to enjoy the bulk of possession after half-time, but Wales always looked dangerous on the counterattack and were certainly worth a point that could prove vital if they are to take their place in Qatar in 12 months’ time .
Only three of the 12 teams participating in the playoffs, which will be divided into groups of four, with each group having two semifinals on one leg and one final, will reach the World Cup in Qatar.