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Euro 2024 play-offs: Wales captain Ben Davies says penalty loss was cruel

Ben Davies
Ben Davies took and scored Wales' first penalty in the shootout

Wales captain Ben Davies said it was "cruel" to miss out on a place at Euro 2024 on a penalty shootout defeat.

Wales drew 0-0 with Poland in a game of few chances at the Cardiff City Stadium but saw their hopes of reaching the finals in Germany ended when Dan James missed his penalty.

Poland scored all five of their spot-kicks to book a place at the Euros.

"It's a difficult one to take, we put everything into the game but in the end it wasn't to be," Davies told S4C.

"I don't know what to say, it was a good performance but the result is the most important thing and that went against us tonight.

"Poland are a good team, there wasn't much between us but in the end, penalties... it's cruel.

"It's an emotional one right now, the character shown from the players showed everyone loves playing for Wales."

Wales boss Rob Page admitted he was crushed by the defeat and said the Wales squad will look after Leeds United winger James, who saw his effort saved by Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny in the shootout.

"It's a cruel game, [we were] one kick away from qualifying. It hurts," he said.

"We rallied around Daniel James, he had the bravery to take that penalty. I am so proud of that group."

Player hugs Dan James
Daniel James is consoled after missing the final penalty in the shootout

Page felt Wales were the better side, having restricted Poland to only a few half chances and no efforts on target until deep into extra time.

"My message to the players at half-time was we are the better team and we will win this game," he said.

"It's so disappointing but look how far we've come, there's something good happening with this group.

"This team is going somewhere. They're so disappointed that they haven't qualified tonight. They are hungry for it. There's a lot more to come and plenty more good times ahead."

His Poland counterpart Michal Probierz added: "Rob Page created a strong team. I was hoping we could meet Wales at the Euros, but unfortunately only one team could qualify,"

Pundit reaction

Former Wales midfielder Joe Allen said: "Dan James has been a crucial player for Wales over the recent years. He's one of the main reasons we went to the World Cup and the Euros before that. Everyone will support him and will remember what he's done for Wales, not just a penalty miss."

Wales all-time top scorer Helen Ward said: "There are a lot of young boys out there that will be heartbroken, but there are many more opportunities to come. So many players have gained so much experience, the likes of Jordan James, Dan James, Ethan Ampadu, Harry Wilson, David Brooks. Tonight will go to add to that, there is an exciting future for that group of players."

Former Wales striker Nathan Blake said: "Dan James has come on as sub, played out of position and did really well, and it has just come down the last penalty. Credit to the lads, we know they are in transition but they've given a hell of a run and they have made a country proud."