SO near yet so far for Wales.

Rob Page’s Dragons came within a whisker of clinching a place at the Euros for a third successive time — only to miss out in heart-breaking fashion.

Former Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny was the penalty shoot-out hero as he dived full stretch to save from Dan James.

And with Danny Ward unable to get to any of the five pens from the visitors, it proved to be enough.

So it is Robert Lewandowski and Poland who take their place in Germany in June while Wales will be wondering what might have been.

It was the first time they have ever been in a penalty shoot-out and this morning will probably hope it is the last.

Because it was a devastating way to go out — and Page will know his team could not have given any more.

This was always going be a much tougher test than Thursday’s semi-final rout of Finland.

Wales only victory over Poland in 10 attempts came back in March 1973 — and they had lost the last six going into this one.

Yet the Dragons are on a seven match unbeaten run and have lost just three of 20 games here in Cardiff.

Wales had battled through to spot-kicks after denying Poland ANY clear chances in normal and extra time.

Ben Davies had a goal wiped out for offside goal in the first half of the added half-hour.

And Szczesny superbly kept out Kieffer Moore’s effort.

Then in the final moments of extra time the Dragons saw centre-back Chris Mepham sent off for his second booking.

That didn’t matter much — but James’ mishap did as the Dragons crashed out undeservedly.

By contrast the Poles have struggled on the road — losing three of their four away Euro qualifiers, including games at Moldova and Albania.

So it was a big night for them and their skipper and talisman Robert Lewandowski.

The Bayern Munich legend was taunted by shouts of ‘you’re just a sh*t Kieffer Moore’ by the noisy Red Wall.

Moore — back in the starting line-up after being benched on Thursday — must have had a little chuckle to himself.

He knows the Barcelona forward has had a stellar career in both club and international football — scoring 82 times for the Poles.

At 35 he knows there will not be many more major tournaments for him – a swansong in Germany this summer would be a perfect way to bow out. — Sun.

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