Football

Disappointed dragons blow lead again

Wales squander lead for third time in four qualifiers

GROUP D

WALES 1

(Gareth Bale 30)

SERBIA 1

(Aleksandar Mitrovic 86)

Wales were desperately unhappy to concede a late goal in Cardiff yesterday morning (Singapore time), said talisman Gareth Bale after the home team were held 1-1 by Serbia in World Cup qualifying.

The draw left Euro 2016 semi-finalists Wales third in Group D with six points from four games, four behind leaders Ireland and two adrift of second-placed Serbia.

It was the third time in four matches that Chris Coleman's side had squandered a lead in qualifying, having been held to a 1-1 home draw by Georgia and a 2-2 draw in Austria.

"We are so disappointed at the moment. We played great in the first half but then faded," said Bale, who fired his team in front on 30 minutes and struck the woodwork moments before Serbia's equaliser.

"It's one of those things, you go so close at one end and then they go up and score.

"It's two points lost.

"We believe we can still do it, we just need to keep working hard."

Midfielder Joe Ledley added: "We are proud of our performance.

"It's Ireland away next and that's a must-win."

Striker Sam Vokes disagreed that it was a must-win, but acknowledged the importance of the tie.

He said: "This result does make that Ireland game more important.

"I wouldn't say it is must-win, but it is a massive game. If we win there it will open the group right up."

Bale hit the post in the 85th minute and Serbia levelled 45 seconds later when Aleksandar Mitrovic continued his fine run of form with a well-taken header.

Visiting captain Branislav Ivanovic said his side were pleased with the outcome.

IMPORTANT GOAL

"It's a very important goal for us," said the Chelsea defender.

"We gave a lot of energy and we can be more than happy with a point.

"Wales are very difficult to play, very strong on the counter attack, and they scored an early goal.

"When you miss the chance to kill the game with a second goal it happens so often that you concede."

Gareth Bale and Co take on Ireland in March and Welsh Dragons boss Coleman promised there are lots of twists and turns left in Group D.

"Ireland have set the tempo now, they're playing on the front foot and deserve to be top," he said.

"They are there on merit, but I think there will be twists and turns in the next six games.

"We've got to play Ireland home and away and the good thing for us is we can affect our own destiny.

"There's a lot of points to play for and we know it's going to be tough game in Dublin.

"And we are well capable of going there and getting a result, we've proved that in the past."

- Wire Services.

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