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Wales hang on for draw with Georgia in Cardiff

Gareth Bale

Gareth Bale is three behind Ian Rush in the list of all-time Wales goalscorers after heading in his 25th international goal

Wales suffered a setback in their World Cup qualifying campaign as a sloppy display saw them held at home by lowly Georgia.

Gareth Bale headed the hosts into an early lead but Georgia, ranked 137th in the world, equalised as an unmarked Tornike Okriashvili nodded in.

Wales unravelled from that point and were lucky not to lose as their opponents squandered several late chances with Valeri Kazaishvili hitting the bar.

Chris Coleman’s side are now third in Group D following wins for Serbia and Republic of Ireland.

Although the European Championship semi-finalists remain unbeaten after their first three fixtures of this campaign, these dropped points could prove costly in their bid to qualify for a first World Cup since 1958.

While Wales were underwhelming, their opponents richly deserved their point as they avoided defeat away from home in a competitive match for just the second time since 2012.

Wales let it slip

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Okriashvili’s goal marked the first time Wales have conceded in a home qualifier for 481 minutes

Having claimed a creditable draw away against Group D’s second seeds Austria three days earlier, Wales entered this match as clear favourites as they sought to strengthen their hold on top spot.

And despite being without injured midfielders Joe Allen and Aaron Ramsey, Wales seized early control of the encounter as they stretched Georgia with quick and incisive passing.

It was one such sequence of slick interplay which led to the corner which produced Bale’s opener, a firm header and the Real Madrid forward’s 25th international goal.

From that point, however, the intensity and pace of the match diminished as Wales seemed content to rest on their one-goal lead.

They became ponderous in possession and sloppy in defence, and they were punished when Okriashvili found space in the Welsh penalty area to head in and silence a dumbfounded Cardiff City Stadium.

Despite using all three substitutions and hurling bodies forward, Wales were ragged at both ends of the field and were fortunate not to suffer the ignominy of a home defeat against Group D’s bottom seeds.

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Wales struggled to put many telling crosses into the Georgia area. Only two [green arrows] from open play found a team-mate in the box

Georgia back to haunt Wales

Despite languishing 127 places below Wales in the world rankings, Georgia had demonstrated their ability to frustrate loftier opponents with a battling display in their defeat by the Republic of Ireland on Thursday.

They also had a strong record against Wales, winning all three of their previous encounters, including a 5-0 thrashing in 1994 which Coleman described as his “lowest moment” in a Wales shirt.

Having initially set up to contain Wales, Georgia grew in confidence as the match wore on and sensed an opportunity to claim a notable scalp.

After scoring a deserved equaliser, they squandered a glorious opportunity to take the lead when Levan Mchedlidze shot wide after a swift counter-attack, and then Kazaishvili’s powerful shot from 20 yards cannoned into the crossbar.

Wales looked tired as they tried in vain to salvage victory, lacking inspiration in midfield in the absence of Allen and Ramsey and demonstrating vulnerability in defence which may have been exploited more ruthlessly by stronger opposition.

Man of the match – Gareth Bale

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There were some worthy contenders in Georgia’s team but, at times, the Real Madrid forward was operating at a different level to everyone else on the pitch.

What they said

Wales boss Chris Coleman: “I think people are looking at it as two points dropped but it might have been two points gained at the end of the day.

“It was the dream start but then we got too comfortable and the whole atmosphere on the pitch was too comfortable. We had to take care of business but we were punished.

“We are disappointed. The two games in four days is tough, not easy, but it is what it is and we have to get on with it. Once we got the goal we had to take care of the job and we didn’t do that.

“We could have lost it in the second half.”

What next?

Wales’ next World Cup qualifying match is at home to Serbia on 12 November. Georgia host Moldova on the same day.

Live Text

Match ends, Wales 1, Georgia 1.

Second Half ends, Wales 1, Georgia 1.

Foul by David Edwards (Wales).

Valeri Kazaishvili (Georgia) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution, Georgia. Nika Kacharava replaces Jano Ananidze.

Substitution, Georgia. Jaba Jigauri replaces Tornike Okriashvili.

Attempt blocked. Vladimir Dvalishvili (Georgia) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked.

Attempt saved. Otar Kakabadze (Georgia) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

Attempt blocked. Tornike Okriashvili (Georgia) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Valerian Gvilia.

David Edwards (Wales) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Tornike Okriashvili (Georgia).

Attempt saved. Hal Robson-Kanu (Wales) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Sam Vokes.

Attempt missed. Gareth Bale (Wales) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right from a direct free kick.

Guram Kashia (Georgia) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Gareth Bale (Wales) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Guram Kashia (Georgia).

Foul by David Edwards (Wales).

Tornike Okriashvili (Georgia) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Corner, Georgia. Conceded by Chris Gunter.

Attempt blocked. Valeri Kazaishvili (Georgia) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Otar Kakabadze.

Gareth Bale (Wales) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Giorgi Navalovski (Georgia).

Attempt missed. Otar Kakabadze (Georgia) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right.

Valeri Kazaishvili (Georgia) hits the bar with a right footed shot from outside the box. Assisted by Jano Ananidze.

Attempt missed. Valerian Gvilia (Georgia) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Tornike Okriashvili.

Attempt saved. Emyr Huws (Wales) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by David Cotterill with a cross.

Tornike Okriashvili (Georgia) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Emyr Huws (Wales) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Tornike Okriashvili (Georgia).

Offside, Georgia. Tornike Okriashvili tries a through ball, but Vladimir Dvalishvili is caught offside.

Substitution, Georgia. Vladimir Dvalishvili replaces Levan Mchedlidze.

Corner, Wales. Conceded by Saba Kverkvelia.

Attempt blocked. Gareth Bale (Wales) left footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked.

David Cotterill (Wales) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Otar Kakabadze (Georgia).

Substitution, Wales. Emyr Huws replaces Joe Ledley.

Attempt missed. Levan Mchedlidze (Georgia) left footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Tornike Okriashvili following a fast break.

Ashley Williams (Wales) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Levan Mchedlidze (Georgia).

Substitution, Wales. David Cotterill replaces Neil Taylor.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/37532639