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Good news for Ireland as Wales drop points at home to Georgia

Perhaps the Boys in Green’s 1-0 win at home to Vladimir Weiss’ side was not so bad after all.

Wales' Gareth Bale rues a missed chance.
Wales' Gareth Bale rues a missed chance.
Image: EMPICS Sport

IRELAND AND WALES’ other rivals were given a boost tonight as Chris Coleman’s side could only draw 1-1 against Georgia.

Vladimir Weiss’ side, who narrowly lost their opening two matches against Austria and Ireland, equalised in the second half through Tornike Okriashvili after Gareth Bale put the hosts ahead.

Bale headed home his 25th Wales goal in the 10th minute to move within three of Ian Rush’s all-time national record as the hosts deservedly led after controlling the first half.

Chris Coleman’s men took their foot off the pedal early in the second half, though, and Georgia took full advantage when Okriashvili ghosted in behind a static Wales defence to head home and restore parity.

Things could have been worse for Wales had Levan Mchedlidze not missed a gilt-edged opportunity to steal the win, while Valeri Kazaishvili also rattled the woodwork.

Wales came flying out of the traps and Andy King’s teasing right-wing centre was almost met by a sliding Bale. And the hosts’ fine start yielded rewards with the opening goal when Bale rose highest to meet Joe Ledley’s corner with a thumping header.

Bale continued to prove a menace and he tested Georgia goalkeeper Giorgi Loria with a 25-yard free-kick before miscuing with another header from a Ledley corner.

Georgia had offered little threat in the final third, but Jano Ananidze saw a well-struck free-kick clip the top of the crossbar.

Bale stated after the Austria game that his long throw is an added “weapon” to his arsenal and it was a tactic that almost led to a second goal when Sam Vokes headed wide. Wales were handed a warning when Okriashvili dragged an effort wide of the right-hand post from the edge of the box.

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Okriashvili made no mistake the next time, though. Kazaishvili crossed deep from the left and the forward was on hand to guide his header past a helpless Wayne Hennessey.

The equaliser briefly reinvigorated Wales and Bale dipped a long-range free-kick on the roof of the goal.

But the home side were let off the hook in the 73rd minute. Bale lost possession deep in Georgia’s half and a lightning counter-attack led to Mchedlidze going one-on-one with Hennessey, but he wastefully slid his shot wide.

Kazaishvili then almost won the match for Georgia in spectacular fashion, but his rasping drive cannoned back off the underside of the bar.

Bale saw another free-kick ripple the side-netting in the closing stages, but Wales had to settle for a point.

It’s Georgia’s first point of the campaign, while it leaves Wales on five points after three games.

A win over Moldova tonight would leave Ireland on seven points, two ahead of Coleman’s side and potentially top of the group depending on the outcome of the Serbia-Austria game later this evening.

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