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Wales 1-1 Serbia: Five things we learned as Mitrovic steals a point in Cardiff

Mitrovic ruins it for Wales / Image via dailymail.co.uk

Mitrovic ruins it for Wales / Image via dailymail.co.uk

Republic of Ireland will have been most pleased with the result in Cardiff as they remain top of the Group D with two-point gap in front of second-placed Serbia.

Wales have once again failed to win despite taking a lead in the game and Chris Coleman will have some work to do for future qualifying challenges.

After 90 minutes of action between Wales and Serbia, here are the five things we learned:

Wales will have been disappointed with the final result

It’s been a rather closely cut contest in Cardiff on Saturday night between Wales and Serbia, but the home side will have surely felt like they could have earned all three points on the occasion.

Gareth Bale opened the scoring for the Welsh Dragons on the half-hour mark, but it was Newcastle United striker Aleksandar Mitrovic who stole the headlines with a late equaliser which ended up ruining the celebration for the Welsh.

Neither side impressed in the game tonight, but we have seen patches of fine play both from Wales and Serbia, alternating in dominance. Wales could have doubled their lead and gotten their cushion in the first half when Robson-Kanu headed the ball slightly aside of Stojkovic’s goal, but Serbia also had their chance when Nemanja Matic fired a powerful shot towards Henessey’s goal.

Not a great deal of action was seen in the second half as Wales sat back to watch the time run, which ultimately proved to be a wrong approach.

Rukavina’s numerous crosses from the right side of the pith ultimately yielded result when Mitrovic glazed a fine header into bottom right corner of Henessey’s goal disappointing Welsh hearts for a 1-1 stalemate.

Nastasic’s blunder a key point in the game

Schalke defender has not been the same player since his Achilles tendon rupture back in 2015. At least for Serbia that is.

Having missed 245 days of competitive action, Matija Nastasic recovered and got back into Schalke’s fold having played 8 full Bundesliga games so far this season, but his performances for Serbia during the World Cup qualifiers have been far from impressive.

Schalke defender made a terrible error in the first half when he failed to clear the ball deep in his half and allowed Robson-Kanu to rob him and send the ball flying to Gareth Bale.

It was a crucial moment in the game which almost ended up costing Serbia dearly hadn’t it been for Mitrovic’s late equaliser.

Wales not a one-man team?

There’s been a fierce debate on whether Real Madrid star player Gareth Bale’s influence on Wales’ play.

Without a doubt a leader of the team, despite the captain’s armband resting on another man’s arm, Bale is of immense influence for team’s atmosphere and – naturally – play. He was once again on top of his game against Serbia, running into spaces, harassing rival defenders and scoring a goal which ultimately made all the difference.

He set up Robson-Kanu with a neat cross in the first half and was unfortunate to record an assist in addition to goal as Robson-Kanu’s effort going nearly of the right post. Bale also hit the post in the second half, but was unlucky to see the ball roll in the net.

Nevertheless, Bale has now had a hand in 15 goals in home appearances for Wales with 11 goals to his name and 4 assists. Enough to suggest that Wales indeed are a one-man show.

Serbia much tighter with Nemanja Matic

Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic was forced to miss Serbia’s three opening matches in 2018 FIFA World Qualifying due to a red card he received back in 2015 against Portugal.

Serbia struggled to link their back and front lines without the influential midfielder in previous games, but Nemanja Matic proved to be a great impact on his comeback against Wales.

The Serbian international midfielder was connecting the dots in the midfield offering valuable support both for his defence and attack in the centre of the pitch and even came close to scoring in the final stages of the first half when he fired a strong shot towards Wales’ goal only to have his effort thwarted by Hennessey.

The 28-year-old towering midfielder was an instant impact and his presence was well noticed on the occasion in Cardiff.

Wales a much different team no to 2012/13

The Welsh Dragons do not have fond memories of their previous meetings with Serbia.

Having lost eight of their 11 previous encounters, Wales were most recently scarred by Serbia during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers losing 6-1 in Novi Sad and 3-0 at home.

Coleman’s side have made great improvement since, becoming one of world’s top teams, impressing at the 2016 European Championship finals in France this summer.

Using a fluid tactical approach, Welsh have exerted great pressure in the midfield through Ramsey, Ledley, Allen and Gareth Bale in particular with the central four constantly transforming the play and alternating positions to create plenty of problems for the Serbian team.

With the result from the game in Cardiff Wales will have been utterly disappointed to let their first-ever win against Serbia slip through their fingers though.

WALES: Hennesey 6.5 – Gunter 7, Chester 7, Williams 7, Taylor 7 – Bale 8, Allen 6.5, Ledley 7 (Edwards 6), Ramsey 7.5 – Vokes 6.5, Robson-Kanu 7 (Lawrence 6.5)

Unused subs: Cotterill, Dummett, Huws, King, McDonalds, Matthews, Walsh, Ward, Williams O., Williams J.

SERBIA: Stojkovic 6.5 – Ivanovic 7, Maksimovic 7, Nastasic 5 – Rukavina 6.5, Matic 7, Milivojevic 7, Obradovic 7 – Kostic 6 (Katai 6), Tadic 6 – Mitrovic 7.5 (Gudelj -)

Unused subs: Jovanovic, Markovic, Mitrovic S., Mladenovic, Pavlovic, Pejcinovic, Rajkovic, Tosic Z., Tosic D.

REFEREE: Alberto Undiano Mallenco

Other results this evening

Austria 0-1 Ireland

Croatia 2-0 Iceland

Georgia 1-1 Moldova

Turkey 2-0 Kosovo

Albania 0-3 Israel

Liechtenstein 0-4 Italy

Spain 4-0 FYR Macedonia

Ukraine 1-0 Finland

Sat 12 Nov, 2016
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