Bale falls short
Wales held to draw as they maintain unbeaten run in the qualifiers
Wales let a lead slip for the second time in four days, but wheareas the 1-1 draw in Austria felt like a point gained, Georgia’s comeback in Cardiff on Sunday night left Chris Coleman deflated.
Before the game, Coleman compared his career to riding a bike uphill, but after a bright start, the wheels came off to change the complexion of Wales’s campaign to reach the 2018 World Cup.
The mild boos at the end, a rarity in recent times, could not have been foreseen when Gareth Bale opened the scoring with a fine header after 10 minutes. That moved him to 25 in 64 internationals and within three of Ian Rush’s record, and it looked like a safe passage to victory lay ahead.
But Wales eased off to grant Geor- gia a way back, seized by Tornike Okriashvili 12 minutes after the break. Georgia are ranked 137th in the world — 127 places behind Wales — but on Sunday night told a different story.
June’s friendly victory in Spain hinted at Georgia’s potential and Vladimir Weiss’s men played some fine technical football at the Cardiff City Stadium. In the end, it was almost a surprise that they did not improve a dire sequence of one away win in 25 competitive games.
The draw increases the importance of Wales’s encounter with Serbia next month and Coleman has told his side they cannot think their impressive run to the Euro 2016 semi-finals means they are guaranteed future success.
“We came back from tournament tails high,” the Wales manager said. “But now this is a test, a slap on the back of the head to remind us it’s not all plain sailing.”
Wales’ Gareth Bale is fouled by Georgia’s Guram Kashia .