by Callum Ellis
WALES booked their place at their second European Championship finals after a 2-0 win over Hungary at the Cardiff City Stadium.
Ryan Giggs etched his named into the Welsh football history books, becoming only the third manager to guide Wales to a major tournament after Jimmy Murphy and Chris Coleman respectively.
Aaron Ramsey – one of the heroes on their route to the semi-finals in France three years ago – grabbed a brace as Wales joined Group E winners Croatia at next summer’s tournament.
But what were the key takeaways from the clash?
Ramsey is the difference
The Juventus midfielder put on a stellar performance on his first start of the qualifying campaign. Ramsey linked up well with Bale – playing together for the first time since a UEFA Nations League defeat against Denmark in November 2018 – and settled the Welsh nerves after 15 minutes.
Bale whipped in a stunning cross for Ramsey to head past Peter Gulacsi, before he curled in another two minutes into the second half.
The midfielder’s creative spark was often missed throughout the campaign but he came back right on time to help fire Wales to qualification.
He may not have started in over a year, but Ramsey’s importance to this team cannot be underestimated.
Hennessey comes to the rescue
Part of the squad who ended Wales’ 58-year wait to reach a major tournament in 2016, Wayne Hennessey – who has only featured three times for Crystal Palace this season – had little to do throughout the 90 minutes.
But he came to the rescue by producing two crucial saves in quick succession to keep Hungary at bay in the first half, denying Dominik Szoboszlai and recovering quickly to keep out Roland Sallai’s effort.
Heroics from Wayne Hennessey! 😮
Amazing agility from the @CPFC 'keeper to first claw Szoboszlai's shot away and then quickly recover to deny Sallai!
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) November 19, 2019
Winning his 89th cap against the Hungarians, Hennessey showed his experienced when it mattered most and will no doubt be key for Wales at next summer’s tournament.
Red Wall play their part
The Wales supporters set the tone for the evening with a spine-tingling rendition of Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau ahead of kick-off. There were nerves among fans – and rightly so given Wales’ track record on these big occasions – but they roared Giggs’ men on to the victory.
More than 31,000 supporters packed out the Cardiff City Stadium, plenty of whom will have experienced the dark days: Scotland in 1977, Romania in 1993 and Russia in 2003. This, however, was not going to be another one of those ‘nearly moments’.
Wales had destiny in their own hands and the Red Wall helped them get over the line.