CAN WORLD CUP DREAM COME TRUE?
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.”
Well done Wales, a great performance and result tonight FIRST MINISTER CARWYN JONES Get in! FORMER WALES AND LIVERPOOL STRIKER IAN RUSH Great win for Wales EXMANCHESTER UNITED AND WALES STAR ROBBIE SAVAGE
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 happy Joe Allen and goalkeeper D Daniel Ward at the Airport ready to come back home
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, manager Martin O’Neill calls for calm during the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier a against Moldova in Dublin on Friday