Wout Weghorst ended Wales’ World Cup party and shattered their 19-match unbeaten home record in dramatic fashion as the Netherlands won 2-1 in Wednesday’s Nations League clash in Cardiff.
Wales will head to Qatar in November for their first World Cup appearance in 64 years after beating Ukraine 1-0 in the play-off final on Sunday.
But Robert Page’s side, who face USA, Iran and England in the group stage in Qatar, came back down to earth with a bump as they suffered a second successive Nations League Group A4 defeat after last week’s loss in Poland.
In a thrilling finale, Rhys Norrington-Davies equalised for Wales in stoppage-time following Teun Koopmeiners’ goal early in the second half.
Burnley striker Weghorst sealed the points for the Netherlands with just seconds left as the visitors ruined the longest unbeaten home run in Wales’ history.
For the first time since November 2018, Wales were beaten in front of their own fans, but the feelgood factor from their World Cup qualification should ensure the frustration from Weghorst’s winner does not linger too long.
“It was a difficult game. We didn’t have our full-strength squad,” Wales captain Gareth Bale said.
“They’re a world-class team and we deserve to be testing ourselves against the best.
“The boys who came in worked very hard to get the equaliser, then to concede after that was gutting. It’s something we have to learn, maybe the dark arts of taking him down.”
It was a second consecutive Nations League victory for the Netherlands, who thrashed Belgium on Friday.
The Dutch, who have also qualified for the World Cup, are unbeaten in 11 games and are yet to lose since Louis van Gaal took charge for the third time in August.
After Wales’ players were seen enjoying a boisterous night out on Sunday to celebrate their historic qualification, it was no surprise Page made seven changes with Bale and Aaron Ramsey among those rested.
Norrington-Davies nodded over from Chris Mepham’s cross before Netherlands keeper Mark Flekken smashed an attempted clearance at Daniel James and watched in relief as it sailed wide.
With Wales on top, Harry Wilson’s free-kick drew a good save from the over-worked Flekken, who also saved from James’ curler.
Against the run of play, Cody Gakpo almost snatched the lead for the Netherlands on the stroke of half-time as his shot deflected just side.
It was warning Wales failed to heed and the Dutch made them pay in the 50th minute.
Jerdy Schouten picked out Koopmeiners in space and the Atalanta midfielder drilled a low shot past Adam Davies from 18 yards.
Bale came on for the final 12 minutes and the forward’s presence lifted Wales, who equalised in stoppage-time when Norrington-Davies headed his first international goal from Connor Roberts’ cross.
But there was a sting in the tale for Wales in the 94th minute.
Tyrell Malacia’s cross perfectly picked out the unmarked Weghorst and his diving header gave the Netherlands a dramatic victory.