Spain, Italy cruise as Wales held again

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Wales con­ceded an ag­o­nis­ing late equaliser as Serbia bat­tled to a 1-1 draw in a World Cup qual­i­fier on Satur­day as for­mer cham­pi­ons Italy and Spain both won 4-0.

Ear­lier Satur­day, the Repub­lic of Ire­land has stunned Aus­tria 1-0 in Vi­enna and are top of Group D on 10 points, with Serbia sec­ond on eight and Wales third on six. Gareth Bale rock­eted Wales into a 30th-minute lead in Cardiff af­ter Hal Rob­son-Kanu dis­pos­sessed Matija Nas­ta­sic and fed the ball to the Real Madrid for­ward, who cracked home a pow­er­ful snap shot to make it 10. But Alek­sander Mitro­vic was fastest to re­act with four red shirts around him when Antonio Rukav­ina whipped in an invit­ing cross to level for the vis­i­tors late in the game.

“It was a dis­ap­point­ing re­sult, we feel like we threw away two points. We’re at home, 1-0 up af­ter 85 min­utes, it’s two points lost,” Bale ad­mit­ted af­ter the game. Just mo­ments be­fore Serbia had lev­elled, Bale had seen a snapshot come ag­o­nis­ingly back off the post.

Wales coach Chris Cole­man was less dis­ap­pointed and was look­ing down the road. “We are four points be­hind Ire­land but we play them twice,” he said. “We have a mas­sive chance. Tonight the boys de­served all three points.”

It was the third game in a row the Welsh have gone ahead only to draw. “We can be proud of our­selves. We are on the right track. To­day we can be happy with one point,” said Serbia captain Branislav Ivanovic.

The Ir­ish top Group D thanks to a James McClean strike three min­utes af­ter half-time in Vi­enna. “This is go­ing to be a very tight fin­ish. But this has been a splen­did start for us and we are de­lighted with the 10 points,” said Ire­land boss Martin O’Neill.

Spain and Italy con­tinue to set the pace at the helm in Group G and both have 10 points. Spain played at Granada where Mace­do­nia’s Darko Velkovski scored a 34th minute own goal be­fore Vo­tolo on 63 min­utes, Na­cho Mon­real (83) and veteran striker Aritz Aduriz (85) gave them a com­fort­able win.

Tak­ing on min­nows Liecht­en­stein, Italy’s An­f­rea Belotti scored ei­ther side of strikes from Ciro Imo­bile and Antonio Can­dreva.

Eran Za­havi con­verted an 18th-minute penalty to set Is­rael on their way with Dan Ein­binder and Eli­ran Atar mak­ing sure they beat Al­ba­nia 30 in Ti­rana.

Ice­land failed to repli­cate their Euro 2016 hero­ics in a 2-0 de­feat in Croa­tia in Group I.

Croa­tia grabbed the lead af­ter 15 min­utes through In­ter Mi­lan mid­fielder Marcelo Bro­zovic, but it was Ice­land who took con­trol af­ter that in Za­greb, where the game was played out in front of empty stands af­ter a FIFA sta­dium ban.

De­spite hav­ing plenty of the ball in both halves, Ice­land failed to make the cru­cial break­through. And the home side pun­ished them in in­jury time, Bro­zovic again do­ing the dam­age against the run of play.

Croa­tia, now top of the group with 10 points from four games, fin­ished the match with 10 men af­ter Ivan Perisic was sent off at the death.

Also in Group I, Turkey re­vived their slim hopes of mak­ing it to Rus­sia in 2018 with a 2-0 home vic­tory over Kosovo in An­talya.

Burak Yil­maz and Volkan Sen scored within four min­utes of one an­other in the sec­ond half to leave Kosovo bot­tom on just a soli­tary point.

Ge­or­gia and Moldova played out a 1-1 draw in Tbil­isi to re­main rooted in the bot­tom two spots in Group D. —AFP

CARDIFF: TOPSHOT - Wales’ for­ward Gareth Bale (L) vies with Serbia’s mid­fielder Ne­manja Matic dur­ing the World Cup 2018 qual­i­fi­ca­tion match be­tween Wales and Serbia at Cardiff City sta­dium in Cardiff on Satur­day. — AFP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.