Italy 1 (Peroni, or Ciao, or something) Wales 0
Switzerland 3 (Albanian Gnome 2, Bosnian Gnome) Turkey 1 (Who cares?)
Gallant Wales got themselves outplayed by Italy’s reserves but still go through to the next round, courtesy of not being thumped as badly as the Swiss were when they played Italy’s first team. Switzerland will probably go through too – so everybody’s happy, apart from the Turks. And that’s the kind of world I’d like to live in. One in which the Turks are embittered and taught a lesson and everyone else has a smile on their face.
The Welsh knew it was about keeping the 'goals against' column down, so left out their excellent striker, Kiefer Sutherland, or something. They defended with the commitment and fury of a Plaid Cymru MP who has just been told that Max Boyce is crap and their national language is stupid. They scarcely troubled the Italians, although towards the end Gareth Bale missed a sitter, going for a volleyed glory shot and putting the ball somewhere near Palermo, when he had ample time to control and shoot. But it made no real difference – nor did sending off Wales’s Ampadu for a stupid tackle. By about 80 minutes everyone seemed happy to leave the score as it was.
The Swiss (er, up to a point), meanwhile, trounced Erdoğan’s caliphate and you could hear the Kurds, Armenians and Israelis cheering from here.
We are now into the business end of the qualifying games, and it looks to me as if all the little teams will be going out. No alarms and no surprises. We will find out on Tuesday if that includes Sturgeon’s Stoic Stalwarts.
Italy, even their reserves, look pretty good, it has to be said. The next really crucial game for neutrals is Wednesday when Portugal takes on France. But even then, it is likely that both teams will go through – and one of them will then face the glorious, attacking, brilliance of England. How they must be trembling.
Man of the match – Ampadu (Wales), for maiming an Italian.