Wales On Sunday - - NEWS - JAMES MCCARTHY Re­porter james.mccarthy@waleson­

STILL rid­ing high from Euro 2016, Wales are dar­ing to dream again. The World Cup is now within touch­ing dis­tance af­ter the 1-0 vic­tory over Georgia.

The win – thanks to Tom Lawrence’s 49th minute stun­ner – means Wales have 17 points and just one match left to play.

Wales re­main in the hunt for an au­to­matic qual­i­fy­ing spot in Group D af­ter Ser­bia’s loss to Aus­tria in Vi­enna.

It means if Ser­bia lose or draw at home to Georgia in Bel­grade to­mor­row, Wales will nick top spot – se­cur­ing au­to­matic qual­i­fi­ca­tion to the World Cup in the process – if they claim all three points against Repub­lic of Ire­land at Cardiff City Sta­dium.

More likely will be a play-off place – se­cured if re­sults in other groups go Wales’ way.

First Min­is­ter Car­wyn Jones is­sued his con­grat­u­la­tions on­line.

“Well done Wales, a great per­for­mance and re­sult tonight,” he tweeted.

“Get in!” added for­mer Wales and Liver­pool striker Ian Rush.

Ex-Manch­ester United and Wales star Rob­bie Sav­age called it a “great win for Wales”.

“Well done to Chris and his side once again, needed to win and de­liv­ered,” he said.

Striker Nathan Blake won 29 caps for Wales.

“I thought they did re­ally well last night,” the for­mer Cardiff City and Sh­effield United player said.

“I ex­pected them to win the game and they did. I also still think they will win the group.”

Some thought the task be­yond Wales.

When man­ager Chris Cole­man ad­mit­ted in Bel­grade his side would need four wins from their fi­nal four fix­tures – a run of vic­to­ries not achieved by the na­tional side in 36 years – some thought it too big an ask.

“I just think it’s a fan­tas­tic re­sult,” Nathan said.

“A bril­liant run, three games on the spin when you have to win is a big ask, big­ger than go­ing into a game know­ing that get­ting a draw is a de­cent re­sult.”

He ex­pected Wales to be “at their best” to­mor­row.

“I think Wales are a bet­ter team than Ire­land with­out Gareth Bale so I would ex­pect a close but com­fort­able 1-0 win again. It’s all to play for.”

To­mor­row’s Cardiff en­counter will be one of the most im­por­tant games in ei­ther coun­try’s re­cent his­tory.

Wales are look­ing for our sec­ond ever ap­pear­ance at the World Cup. Repub­lic of Ire­land are chas­ing a spot at foot­ball’s big­gest com­pe­ti­tion for the first time since 2002.

Dirty Sanchez star turned ex­treme ath­lete, Mathew Pritchard, didn’t catch the match.

But he was over the moon at the re­sult.

“I I thought it was fan­tas­tic to be hon­est,” the Wales and Cardiff City fan said.

“I saw some­thing on Twit­ter where the an­them was cut short and the Wales fans just kept singing their hearts out. It was ace. “I thought that’ll learn ’em.” “It’s great,” Matt said. “Es­pe­cially as Eng­land are not play­ing the best at the mo­ment. That they did so well with­out Bale shows how strong the team are. At the end of the day they are a foot­ball team, it’s a team ef­fort, it’s not a one man show.

“Noth­ing against Gareth Bale though, he’s fan­tas­tic.”

The 44-year-old was ex­cited at the pos­si­bil­ity our lads could qual­ify.

“I’ve never wit­nessed it in my life­time, but af­ter see­ing the per­for­mance in the Euros, this is ab­so­lutely amaz­ing,” he said.

“Ev­ery­one in Wales would be cel­e­brat­ing if they got through to the World Cup.”

Actor, co­me­dian, ra­dio pre- sen­ter and foot­ball fan Elis James is go­ing to watch the game to­mor­row.

“And I will be go­ing to the play-offs, wher­ever they are,” he said.

“In the past our teams have gone to eastern Europe to die. So I was, like all Welsh foot­ball fans, slightly pes­simistic about Fri­day.

“I thought we would scrape a draw. And then I found out Bale was in­jured and I was slightly less hope­ful.”

Elis is con­fi­dent about to­mor­row.

“I hate mak­ing pre­dic­tions,” he said.

“I think we’re go­ing to win 2-1.”

The comic dubbed Chris Cole­man the “great­est Welsh man­ager we have ever had.”

“This is our golden age,” he e

said. “This is to foot­ball what the ’70s were to Welsh rugby. “I hate to tempt fate but I have wanted this all my life. “I just want us to get there. I am tired of sup­port­ing other teams at the World Cup.”

It’s pos­si­ble for Wales to qual­ify au­to­mat­i­cally in to­mor­row’s game in Cardiff.

Gra­ham Keenor is the nephew of Cardiff City leg­end Fred Keenor.

He was ec­static Wales beat Georgia.

“I’m de­lighted as far as that is con­cerned, the whole ole Keenor fam­ily is, is,” he said.

“I have not spo­ken oken to them yet but they are all in­ter­ested ter­ested and I think they would be de­lighted with the re­sult.

“We’ll be keep­ing ping our ears to the ground now to see how they do.

“I think mostst peo­ple were surp prised they were re able to win with­out Bale but he’s taken the right step that’s for sure.”

Bale was un­able to p play due to in­jury.ury.

“Hope­fully hee will be th there for the next xt one,” G Gra­ham said.

If Fred were still a alive he would ld h have been at t th the game, Grah ham said.

“He could not leave foot- ball alone,” Grara­hamha said.

Twit­ter was awash with ex­cited fans af­terf the game.

“Oh my days, ays, Mon­dayM in Cardiff iff is go­ing to be some­thing else,” said John Earn­shaw.

Michiel Willems said: “Tom Lawrence’s thun­der­ous sec­ond-half strike against Georgia has boosted Wales’ World Cup chances.”

A fan call­ing them­selves “Drogba-Edi­tion” won­dered: “Who is go­ing to the World Cup play off stages? Dafydd Evans was more pos­i­tive. “Great play be­tween the lines, even bet­ter fin­ish! Cardiff will be on Mon­day. “C’mon Wales!” Edugie Abel wanted Wales to be at the fi­nals “for Aaron Ram­sey’s sake”. James Jones was left gasp­ing.

“Aaannnddd breathe,” he said. “One more step along the road for FA Wales.”


Left, Wales’ goal-scorer Tom Lawrence cel­e­brates his side’s 1-0 vic­tory over Georgia with team-mate Hal Rob­son-Kanu dur­ing the 2018 FIFA World Cup qual­i­fy­ing match be­tween Georgia and Wales at the Boris Paichadze D Di­namo Arena on Fri­day and, right, a...

Wales’ Dave Ed­wards and Tom Lawrence cel­e­brate af­ter the fi­nal whis­tle Wales’ man­ager Chris Cole­man gives a big thumb­sup af­ter the game Repub­lic of Ire­land’s Daryl Mur­phy cel­e­brates scor­ing his side’s first goal of the game with Shane Duffy as, be­low,...

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