Humm’s last-gasp strike in extra time ends Wales’ World Cup dream | Women’s World Cup 2023

Wales’s hopes of reaching the World Cup finals and a first major tournament ended in heartbreak as Switzerland prevailed from this barmy playoff tie, the wily substitute Fabienne Humm flicking in a deft winner as the second half of extra time ticked into stoppage time.

A topsy-turvy contest was heading for a penalty shootout after the excellent Ramona Bachmann, who was forced off late on through injury, cancelled out Rhiannon Roberts’s opener.

Switzerland missed a second‑half penalty and Bachmann saw a fine strike disallowed in normal time for offside but there would be no final reprieve as Humm struck to floor Wales, whose distraught players left the pitch with sore eyes.

Ffion Morgan sat on the turf wiping tears from her eyes and the goalkeeper Laura O’Sullivan headed down the tunnel gnawing at the inside of her cheeks, presumably replaying the moment that ultimately decided this game.

Geraldine Reuteler curled a cross into the six-yard box and Humm dashed towards the front post to help the ball past O’Sullivan.

“It is incredibly tough to take,” the Wales manager, Gemma Grainger, said. “We know that the margins at this level are fine. I’m proud that we compete at this level and we’re going to continue doing that.”

The game descended into attack versus defence as Switzerland attempted to ramp up the pressure but it seemed as though Wales would eke it out until penalties. Bachmann jinked into the box and forced a save from O’Sullivan before Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic, whose 58th‑minute penalty cannoned off a post, headed wide unmarked from a free-kick.

The Switzerland substitute Rachel Rinast volleyed wide at the back post on the cusp of half-time in extra time and the Wales left-back Rachel Rowe headed off the line to deny Riola Xhemaili. The defending was so desperate that Xhemaili was shorn of one of her boots. Wales, who required extra time to overcome Bosnia‑Herzegovina on Thursday, eventually wilted.

Wales’ Rhiannon Roberts scores the opening goal against Switzerland in the Women’s World Cup playoff match
Rhiannon Roberts gives Wales an early lead against Switzerland. Photograph: Christian Merz/AP

Switzerland put 15 goals past Moldova in their previous game and are nine places above Wales in the Fifa rankings but Grainger’s side had come too far – this was their 12th game of the qualifying campaign – to show any signs of an inferiority complex.

Wales seemed to relish their status as underdogs and rocked the hosts when Roberts side-footed in on the turn with 19 minutes on the clock. Kayleigh Green kept Angharad James’s corner alive in the box, towering above two Switzerland defenders to win a header, and Roberts reacted quickest to squeeze a shot into the corner.

A slick move brought Switzerland’s equaliser on the verge of half-time, the Arsenal midfielder Lia Wälti’s clever pass breaking the lines after Reuteler shifted the ball infield. Rowe was lured upfield out of position and Noelle Maritz, fresh from picking up Wälti’s perfectly weighed pass, roamed down the right flank and picked out the former Chelsea forward Bachmann, who effortlessly swept a right‑foot shot into the top corner.

Wales were suddenly on the back foot and the Switzerland defender Luana Bühler then headed a corner wide before the half-time whistle.

The drama increased in the second half when Crnogorcevic adjusted her feet to convert the rebound after her penalty rattled a post, only for the Swedish referee, Tess Olofsson, to rule the goal out because no other player touched the ball before the Barcelona striker stroked home from close range. Crnogorcevic was made to wait a couple of minutes before taking the spot-kick, as the referee calmed squabbling players. The penalty was awarded after the video assistant referee alerted Olofsson to the ball striking Rowe’s hand as the defender got to grips with Eseosa Aigbogun’s cross.

O’Sullivan made a smart save a couple of minutes into the second half to keep out Svenja Fölmli ’s effort from the angle as the hosts sought a winner. At the other end Green saw an effort land on the roof of the Swiss net after latching on to Jess Fishlock’s pass.

Bachmann thought she had scored a winner on 84 minutes, only for VAR to kill the party. Bachmann rolled Hayley Ladd and lashed a shot into the far corner from the edge of the six‑yard box but moments later placed her hands on her hips awaiting the VAR review, which found the substitute Riola Xhemaili offside in the buildup. Rowe’s heroics cleared off the line to deny Xhemaili but Humm hushed Wales at the last.

Sophie Ingle calls on Wales to believe they can achieve World Cup dream | Women’s World Cup 2023

Sophie Ingle says Wales’s players “have to believe that we can get a result” against Switzerland in their World Cup playoff on Tuesday night.

Wales travel to Switzerland bidding to book their place in next year’s finals in Australia and New Zealand having beaten Bosnia-Herzegovina 1-0 in Cardiff last Thursday. Victory will not automatically seal a World Cup spot, however, with Scotland hosting the Republic of Ireland and Portugal meeting Iceland and only two of the winning teams qualifying directly on the basis of their qualification records. The country that misses out will go into an inter-confederation playoff in February.

“It is complicated, but it’s competitive,” the Wales manager, Gemma Grainger, said. “It keeps you on your toes. These games are knockout games. The only other way you play knockout games is in tournaments. So what a great experience for us to have to think about the possibility of extra-time, to have to think about the possibility of penalties. Knowing that we go through that as a team is such a thing for us to do.”

The Chelsea midfielder Ingle said: “It’s like another cup final. It’s probably our 12th cup final of this campaign. We’ve had a lot of games and at this level they’re all as important as the next. We’ve been on a journey, but we want to go one better and get the win.”

The Scotland manager, Pedro Martínez Losa, admitted that his side must “have a belief in what we are doing” ahead of their game with the Republic of Ireland at Hampden Park, where it is expected the women’s team will break its attendance record.

“We are in the best place that we could be,” Martínez Losa said. “It’s one opportunity potentially every four years. We just prepare for a final. We prepared for one final and now we are preparing for another.

It’s an incredible opportunity to be involved and play in a World Cup and inspire a generation of players and make the game better.”

Scotland finished runners-up in Group B, behind Spain, and Wales finished runners-up in Group I, behind France, to earn their places in the playoffs. Martínez Losa’s side secured a 1-0 win in extra-time against the Euro 2022 quarter-finalists Austria to set up the second-round match with the Republic of Ireland, while Wales also needed extra-time to beat Bosnia and Herzegovina and secure the tie with Switzerland.

Jess Fishlock’s extra-time goal gives Wales World Cup playoff victory | Women’s World Cup 2023

The games just keep getting bigger for Wales. They secured an extra-time victory over Bosnia to move one step closer to reaching the World Cup and a first major tournament. For the men’s side, so often the protagonist has been Gareth Bale but it was another Welsh icon who these days resides stateside that unlocked a stubborn Bosnia defence to qualify for the next round.

Jess Fishlock’s superb sweeping volley at the end of first-half stoppage time in extra time was enough to earn a trip to Zurich to face Switzerland on Tuesday. Fishlock is Wales’s most decorated player – last week she won the NWSL Shield with Seattle-based OL Reign and has twice won the Champions League – but her 35th goal on her 135th cap was the kind of match-winning moment that may well eclipse the lot. Fishlock sprinted towards the halfway line in celebration with every outfield player in hot pursuit, with many knee-sliding on to the turf in delirium.

“It’s a phenomenal moment that I never really thought I would see in a Wales shirt,” Fishlock said. “The celebrations were crazy. I think it is probably my best and most important goal for Wales. I remember saying to Haz [Hayley Ladd]: ‘Go over there and tell Rachel [Rowe] to whip it into the front post and I’ll get on the end of it.’ I was frustrated with our lofted balls and them always getting the first contact. Thankfully, they listened to me.” Then arrived a broad smile.

For so long it seemed as though Wales’s night was destined to end in misery – they had four goals disallowed in normal time – but eventually triumphed when Fishlock, one of three players to have an effort chalked off for offside, converted Rowe’s free-kick. Wales keep breaking records, too, this the biggest crowd at a Wales women’s game and while the 15,200 here had to do their fair share of suffering, with Kayleigh Green twice denied by the offside flag before the substitute Ffion Morgan and Fishlock saw goals ruled out, they left with beaming smiles.

The two best-ranked playoff second-round winners will secure spots at the World Cup, with the other victorious side going into the inter-confederation play-offs in New Zealand in February. Gemma Grainger’s side always looked the more likely to reach the next stage but Bosnia proved resilient and their goalkeeper, Almina Hodzic, made a series of fine saves, the pick of the bunch an alert first-half stop to help Ceri Holland’s powerful drive from an acute angle on to the crossbar before Angharad James saw the rebound blocked.

Jess Fishlock puts the ball in the net for Wales but the goal was disallowed
Jess Fishlock puts the ball in the net for Wales but the goal was disallowed. Photograph: Huw Fairclough/Getty Images

At the other end Laura O’Sullivan made an instinctive save early on to prevent Matija Aleksic with an outstretched boot but the Wales goalkeeper otherwise had a satisfyingly quiet night as Bosnia failed to fashion clear chances.

Rowe said she “nearly screamed the roof down” after being drawn against Bosnia, the lowest ranked team in these playoffs, but those words seemed to stoke the fire in Wales’ opponents. The Wales centre-back Hayley Ladd inadvertently gave O’Sullivan a fright 10 minutes into the second half when her header to intercept Melisa Hasanbegovic’s through ball dropped wide of the Wales goal with the goalkeeper stranded.

But after that scare it was one-way traffic, with Green having the second of two goals ruled out. Morgan arrived off the bench and thought she had found a winner on 83 minutes, only for Rhiannon Roberts to be deemed offside in the buildup to converting from close range. Fishlock was then denied but rose to the occasion in extra time. Fishlock peeled off her marker to meet Rowe’s curled free-kick and picked out the top corner with the sweetest of strikes. “Big players turn up in big games and that’s what Jess did for this team,” Grainger said.