Bale’s opener not enough for Wales
WALES dropped two precious World Cup qualifying points with a 1-1 draw against Georgia in Cardiff.
Gareth Bale headed Wales in front from a 10th-minute corner and the Euro 2016 semifinalists should have extended their lead before halftime.
But Georgia levelled through Tornike Okriashvili’s 57th-minute header and almost won it during a strong finish when Valeri Kazaishvili struck the crossbar.
On paper it seemed a mismatch with Georgia ranked 137th in the world, a massive 127 places between Euro 2016 finalists Wales.
And Georgia had won only one of manager Vladimir Weiss’ six games in charge, albeit a 1-0 away victory over Spain in June.
But Wales had lost all three of their previous meetings against Georgia and have often struggled to break down stubborn opponents who defend deep in numbers.
The absence of Joe Allen and Aaron Ramsey put extra emphasis on Gareth Bale to perform, and the Real Madrid forward did not disappoint during a lively start where he almost latched onto Andy King’s dangerous cross.
But Bale did not have to wait long for his 25th Wales goal. Joe Ledley’s 10th-minute corner found him unmarked in the six-yard area to score with a trademark header.
Bale was clearly in the mood, running at defenders at every opportunity, and testing Georgia goalkeeper Giorgi Loria with a 25-yard freekick which he himself had won.
Wales needed a second goal to ease any nerves which may have existed among the sell-out Cardiff City Stadium crowd of 32,652.
But Georgia were firmly in the game now and Tornike Okriashvili put his shot wide from 20 yards before the visitors equalised after 57 minutes.
Neil Taylor conceded possession and Georgia broke quickly for Valeri Kazaishvili to float a ball to the back post, which the unmarked Okriashvili finished with a firm header. – The Independent