BRENNAN JOHNSON came to Wales’s rescue after the supersub kick-started their Nations League campaign with a late equalizer against Belgium.
The Nottingham Forest attacker scored his country’s first goal in the 86th minute after slamming in an Aaron Ramsey pass.
But new hero Johnson needed a protracted VAR check for a possible offside before firing for joy at the Cardiff City Stadium.
Johnson is seen as a long-term replacement for talisman Gareth Bale and after replacing the Wales captain in the 73rd minute, the 21-year-old trumped on his 12th cap to give Robert Page’s side their first point of the competition.
It looked like a second-half goal from Belgium’s Youri Tielemans would prove crucial before Johnson intervened.
Leicester ace Tielemans slid coolly home from Michy Batshuayi’s 50th minute break to smash the ball deep past Wayne Hennessey.
Tielemans has 12 months left on his Foxes contract and could be lured to Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal in a £25m deal this summer.
And his impressive all-action display in Cardiff showed why the Gunners are looking to him.
After Wales’ opening defeats by Poland and the Netherlands, Page’s World Cup finalists remain at the bottom, three points clear of nearest rivals Belgium and Poland with three games to go.
But this point will give the Dragons a much-needed boost as the Poles are still set to visit Cardiff in September.
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In total, Page has just three games left, starting with the trip to the Netherlands in Rotterdam on Tuesday before Wales start their finals against USA in Qatar on November 21, followed by Group B games against Iran and the Archrival England.
Bale, who leaves Real Madrid at the end of this month, will have a new club by then but even the Wales captain and talisman failed to delight his team-mates during his time on the pitch.
In an entertaining clash, Ethan Ampadu thought he had scored his first international goal to stun the world No. 2.
But the Chelsea defender’s sweet fifth-minute left-footed shot was ruled out after a VAR check for offside by Joe Rodon in the build-up.
Belgium weathered the shock and quickly put Wales hero Hennessey to the test in their World Cup play-off triumph over Ukraine six days earlier.
He made nine saves last Sunday and the Burnley keeper was called on to stop Tielemans.
Without Kieffer Moore due to a back injury, Page Dan tested James in attack with Bale.
The pair met after 14 minutes when James Ampadus snapped the ball over the top and found Bale, who could only fire past the near post.
Chances flowed and Yannick Carrasco saw an effort from Kevin de Bruyne’s long cross which was saved by Hennessey.
Connor Roberts headed over from Joe Allen’s center but that was the final action for the Stoke midfielder, who appeared to strain a hamstring crossing the ball.
Allen, who made his professional debut 15 years ago at Swansea by Red Devils boss Roberto Martinez, went straight down the tunnel in the 38th minute after being replaced by Ramsey.
Burnley full-back Roberts couldn’t contain his efforts as he squandered another chance before Belgium finished the half on a strong note.
Leandro Trossard sent the ball wide after Batshuayi’s shot was diverted to the Brighton man before De Bruyne tested Hennessey at his near post.
Neco Williams fired a shot wide at the start of the second half before Belgium scored.
The lively Trossard made ground on the right, supplying Batshuayi and the Chelsea striker, on loan to Besiktas in Turkey, provided an intelligent finish to the advancing Tielemans, who gave no chance to Hennessey.
Tottenham centre-back Rodon fired high and well over the bar when he was well placed on the edge of the area.
Bale was replaced by Johnson with 17 minutes to go and there was an instant taste of Johnson’s potential as the Nottingham Forest attacker ran towards the Belgium defence, cutting inside and seeing his shot deflected wide.
Wales huffed and puffed in search of the equaliser, Rodon heading over from a Ramsey free-kick before Johnson secured a draw.
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/5542684/wales-belgium-match-report-nations-league-brennan-johnson/ Wales 1 Belgium 1: Brennan Johnson comes to Rob Page’s rescue late as the super sub steals the Nations League point