Lockyer starts as Wales face Euro 2024 play-off after drawing with Turkey

Town defender makes first start in a qualifier for over four years
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Luton defender Tom Lockyer started for Wales as they drew 1-1 at home with Turkey in their final Euro 2024 qualifier at the Cardiff City Stadium on Tuesday night.

Robert Page’s side went into the game knowing that only a victory over the Group D winners and Croatia dropping points at home to Armenia would be enough to secure automatic qualification for the tournament in Germany next year.

Although they led through Neco Williams’ early goal, a controversial penalty converted by Yusuf Yazici with 20 minutes remaining, plus Croatia’s 1-0 win over Armenia, means that they now go into the play-offs to try and reach the Euros.

They will host either Ukraine, Finland or Iceland in a one-legged play-off semi-final on March 21 and if successful, take on Poland or Estonia - with home advantage to be decided via a draw on Thursday - in another one-off tie five days later.

For Town skipper Lockyer though, brought in due to a suspension to Chris Basham, it was his 16th cap and first in a qualifier since way back in November 2019.

He impressed with three clearances, one interception and one blocked shot, also having a passing accuracy of 84.8% and going on to have a shot himself.

The hosts made a great start with Harry Wilson spreading the play out to the left, where Williams cut inside on to his right foot to find the bottom corner.

Tom Lockyer wins the ball from Ismail Yuksek during Wales' 1-1 draw with Turkey on Tuesday night- pic: Michael Steele/Getty ImagesTom Lockyer wins the ball from Ismail Yuksek during Wales' 1-1 draw with Turkey on Tuesday night- pic: Michael Steele/Getty Images
Tom Lockyer wins the ball from Ismail Yuksek during Wales' 1-1 draw with Turkey on Tuesday night- pic: Michael Steele/Getty Images

Wales remained on the front foot and had three spot-kick appeals of their own turned down, the most vociferous when Samet Akaydin barged into Brennan Johnson from a corner, but referee Matej Jug gave nothing.

Kerem Akturkoglu shot over from close range, while after the interval, Page’s men conceded an incredibly soft penalty when captain Davies made minimal contact on Yildiz, who threw himself over, as the Slovenian official somehow chose to point to the spot.

Yusuf Yazici calmly sent goalkeeper Danny Ward the wrong way to level the scores and Turkey were close to going ahead when Yusuf Sari's long-range shot brushed the bar.

Wales tried to find a winner, Johnson’s deft finish disallowed for offside, but a disappointed Page said to the BBC: “I have to be careful what I say, it was a stonewall penalty against Brennan, one of the most obvious I have seen, and we have conceded the softest penalty I have ever seen.

"It's so frustrating at this level. I can't get my head around it.

"But the performance? I thought the lads were excellent. We were going for the win and everyone could see that.

"Our preparations start now for the play-offs. We will know more on Thursday who we have got.

“"I'm pleased it's a home draw. What our supporters do is incredible. They help us get the results.

“This place is a fortress. Croatia, now Turkey, you go back to Austria, Ukraine - we have had some big nights here.

"The crowd are massive in helping us achieve the wins.”