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Rob Page pays tribute to Wales after World Cup exit

Rob Page pays tribute to Wales after World Cup exit

Wales manager Rob Page has urged his players to keep their heads held high following their elimination from the 2022 World Cup at the hands of England.

The Dragons entered Tuesday’s game at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium needing to win to have a shot at progressing to the knockout rounds from Group B, and they produced a resilient defensive display to keep the first half goalless.

However, within five minutes of the second half, the Dragons found themselves behind as Marcus Rashford‘s sweetly-struck free kick found the top corner of the net.

England were two up less than a minute later as Phil Foden tapped home at the back post from Harry Kane‘s ball across, and Rashford bagged his second in the 68th minute to seal the result.

That 3-0 defeat consigned Wales to a fourth-placed finish in Group B, with England going through as group winners and the USA placing second following a 1-0 win over Iran.

Wales players look dejected after Marcus Rashford scores for England on November 29, 2022© Reuters

Despite seeing his nation’s first World Cup in 64 years end at the first hurdle, Page hardly had a bad word to say about his players after the game and hailed their “unbelievable achievement” of reaching the World Cup in the first place.

“It’s very tough at this moment in time. I thought we were outstanding in the first half, I really did. The effort they put in without the ball was exceptional,” Page told BBC One.

“We addressed it at half time and said we could’ve been a little bit better but I won’t hear a bad word said about those players – they have given it everything today.

“The first goal was a wonderful strike, the second one disappointed me a little bit but I don’t want to talk about negatives today. The boys have put a shift in.

“We disappointed to be leaving the tournament but if you’re going to go out, that’s the way, that first half performance again, was excellent.

Wales players clap the fans after being eliminated from the World Cup on November 29, 2022© Reuters

“My message is don’t be disappointed. We’ve got to build for the future now. We got to a World Cup and that was an unbelievable achievement for that group of players.”

Injury was added to insult for Wales on the night, as Gareth Bale had to come off at half time to be replaced by Brennan Johnson, while Ben Davies was also withdrawn in the second half.

Neco Williams, meanwhile, took the full force of a Rashford strike on his head in the first half, and he had to be replaced in a concussion substitution, with Connor Roberts coming on.

Offering an update on the status of his injured players, Page added: “He [Bale] tried to get to half time but unfortunately, he felt his hamstring. Look at Joe Allen, first 90 minutes for ages and he’s thrown everything at it. Ben Davies had to come off through injury. It was a massive effort from the group and I’m so proud of them.”

England will go on to face Senegal in the last 16 after finishing top of the section, while second-placed USA prepare for a tie with Group A winners Netherlands.

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