Wales’ hopes of qualifying automatically for Euro 2024 suffered a potentially critical blow as they were held to a 1-1 draw in their penultimate Group D match on Saturday.
Robert Page’s side had recovered from a poor start to their qualifying campaign to reach a position where a win in Yerevan and at home to Turkey on Tuesday would have sent them to their fourth major tournament out of the last five.
But their fate is now out of their hands after Croatia defeated Latvia 2-0 away to take over second place and move two points clear of Wales with one round of matches remaining.
From the moment Armenia’s Lucas Zelarayan cut in and fired a shot into the bottom corner after five minutes, the Welsh never managed to exert any sort of control.
They enjoyed a huge stroke of luck in first-half stoppage time when a long throw-in by Connor Roberts went in off the head of Armenia’s Nair Tiknizyan.
It failed to inspire a second-half surge though and it was Armenia, who knew a win could keep alive their qualification hopes, who were the more likely winners.
Vahan Bichakhchyan was denied by the crossbar and Edgar Sevikyk had a chance saved in stoppage time.
Wales had opportunities too with Ethan Ampadu having a header saved but they did not do enough to warrant three points.
They are in third place with 11 points from seven games, five behind group leaders Turkey, while second-placed Croatia now have 13 points after beating the Latvians.
Early goals from Lovro Majer and Andrej Kramaric were enough to put Croatia in the driving seat for automatic qualification before the final matchday.
Fourth-placed Armenia, who have eight points, looked crestfallen at the final whistle as their Euro 2024 hopes ended — paying the price for losing to bottom side Latvia in October.
Ampadu said all Wales can do now is beat Turkey and hope for a favour elsewhere.
“We are always good at bouncing back and on Tuesday we need to control what we can control and get the result we need, and maybe we will get a little bit of luck along the way,” he told BBC Wales.
Wales finish at home to already-qualified Turkey on Tuesday when Croatia host Armenia.