DENMARK ended Wales’ hopes of Nations League promotion at the Cardiff City Stadium.

Ryan Giggs’ men went into the match knowing a win would see them go into League A and seal a Euro 2020 play-off place.

But Nicolai Jorgensen and Martin Braithwaite scored either side of the break to see the Danes top the group.

Gareth Bale netted a 31st international goal seconds after Braithwaite’s strike but it proved to be just a consolation.

The game was always going to be more than the Bale and Christian Eriksen show, but the two star names did have the first chances of the encounter in Cardiff.

Eriksen didn’t find the target with his effort, Bale did, although Danish keeper Kasper Schmeichel comfortably pushed the Real Madrid man’s shot out for a corner.

It was from the resulting set-piece that the hosts should have taken the lead inside the opening 10 minutes.

David Brooks provided the cross for centre-back James Chester to glance a header just wide from six yards.

Chester had another headed opportunity soon after but couldn’t keep the ball down.

While the visitors started to gain a foothold in proceedings, Wales created a great chance around the half-hour mark, and Bale might feel he should have done better with his close-range header.

Not long after that, Newport-born Chris Gunter replaced the injured Paul Dummett to win his record-equalling 92nd cap, and moments later he made a timely intervention to deny Thomas Delaney.

However, three minutes before the break and Denmark were in front, the goal coming following a rapid counter-attack after Wales had been on the attack.

Yussuf Poulsen delivered a superb cushioned pass to Jorgensen and the Feyenoord striker coolly slotted the ball through the legs of Wayne Hennessey.

Wales started the second half positively and went close when Brooks volleyed over Bale’s cross.

But the home side were forced into another substitution within five minutes of the restart, this time Ethan Ampadu replacing the injured Chester.

The lively Brooks then danced his way to the edge of the box before curling a left-footed effort wide and Tom Lawrence’s strike was straight at Schmeichel.

With his side unable to break the Danes’ resolve, Giggs introduced Harry Wilson in an attempt to make a breakthrough.

But it was Denmark who nearly wrapped up the points when Lasse Schone and Eriksen combined to find Poulsen but he blasted over with only Hennessey to beat.

The visitors were almost made to pay for their wastefulness on 83 minutes, however, Schmeichel brilliantly denied Bale whose free-kick was tipped onto the woodwork by the Leicester City keeper.

Temperatures became frayed as the game entered the closing stages, with Denmark substitute Kasper Dolberg clattering into Ampadu and picking up a yellow card that could have been red.

Ampadu sought retribution moments later and also went into the referee’s notebook.

Not long after, the visitors went 2-0 up, Braithwaite smashing a volley past Hennessey with the aid of a deflection off Ampadu.

Bale replied within seconds, taking an Ashley Williams pass past Schmeichel and slotting onto an empty net.

That gave Wales hope but there was to be no dramatic equaliser.

Wales: Hennessey, C Roberts, Williams, Chester (Ampadu 50), Dummett (Gunter 39), Allen, Ramsey, Brooks, Bale, Lawrence, T Roberts (Wilson 67).

Booked: Lawrence, Ampadu, Williams

Denmark: Schmeichel, Dalsgaard, Christensen, Z Jorgensen, Larsen, Schone (Lerager 79), Delaney, Poulsen, Eriksen, Braithwaite, N Jorgensen (Dolberg 69).

Booked: Dalsgaard, Delaney, Dolberg, Schmeichel