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Page sings praises of Rodon after his stunning late block.

Byline: IAN MITCHELMORE sportsdesk@dailypost.co.uk @dailypostsport

ONDREJ Celustka was poised to break Welsh hearts.

The Red Wall could be forgiven for feeling crushed as the ball fell to the defender following a slick passing move on Wales' left flank.

And as the Czech Republic star struck, Rob Page's men were bracing themselves to be pegged back in agonising fashion.

Step up Joe Rodon. The Tottenham defender snuffed out the danger with what was a truly heroic block as Wales held on to clinch all three points in the World Cup qualifier at Cardiff City Stadium.

It was as brave as it was intelligent, too. Rodon swiftly manoeuvred himself a yard to his left in time to ensure that - once he had lunged into the face of danger - his right leg would get in between Celustka's strike and Danny Ward's goal.

It was a moment that left former Wales international Danny Gabbidon stunned.

"That's a match-winning block. Unbelievable defending from Joe Rodon," he said during his commentary on Sky Sports.

And boss Page admitted Rodon's intervention was as vital as Daniel James' header at the Canton End.

"It's as good as a goal," he commented. "Defenders, that's what they pride themselves on, they want to defend, it's the art of defending.

"Sometimes you've got to throw your body on the line. But what a block from Joe Rodon that was."

It was a moment that has already been compared to other significant incidents in Welsh football history - most notably Ben Davies' epic block to deny Marek Hamsik just two minutes and 38 seconds into Wales' glorious Euro 2016 campaign.

And, while it was hugely significant, Rodon's crucial challenge in the second minute of injury time against the Czechs proved to be the juiciest cherry on top of what was the most palatable of cakes.

Having shone against Belgium, Rodon was once again imperious in the Welsh capital on Tuesday night.

The 23-year-old won five aerial duels during the game - the most of any player wearing red.

He also made seven clearances which is three more than any of his team-mates achieved. In addition to topping the charts in those categories, Rodon had the second most touches of any Wales player while he also cleverly won his side a pair of free-kicks.

It was another statement of a performance from the former Swansea City man. And Jose Mourinho will have taken full notice.

Rodon has made just one appearance for Tottenham since the end of January. The central defender impressed on that occasion as he helped Spurs to keep a clean sheet in a 2-0 win at Aston Villa. But the centre-back's already high stock was raised to even new heights in the space of just seven days following his excellent displays for Wales.

CAPTION(S):

Ethan Ampadu embraces Joe Rodon (obscured) at the end in Cardiff

The moment Joe Rodon (grounded, third from left) watches Ondrej Celustka's shot balloon over the bar

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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:IAN MITCHELMORE sportsdesk@dailypost.co.uk @dailypostsport
Publication:Daily Post (Conwy, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Apr 1, 2021
Words:489
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