WC Qualifiers: Croatia wins, Wales held by Georgia

Gareth Bale scored his 25th goal for Wales but Georgia fought back strongly to earn a deserved 1-1 draw in a World Cup Group D qualifier in Cardiff on Sunday. Mandzukic goal was enough fro Croatia as it defeated Finland 1-0.

Gareth Bale was on the scoresheet again for Wales.   -  Reuters

Gareth Bale scored his 25th goal for Wales but Georgia fought back strongly to earn a deserved 1-1 draw in a World Cup Group D qualifier in Cardiff on Sunday.

It left Wales, surprise semifinalist at Euro 2016, with five points from three games and at risk of losing the group leadership after the day's later matches.

Georgia took its first point, following narrow defeats by Austria and Ireland.

Wales, who have only ever qualified for the finals once, in 1958, took the lead in the 10th minute when Real Madrid's Bale leapt above his markers to head in Joe Ledley's corner.

He is now only three goals behind Ian Rush's national record of 28 goals.

The home team paid for a lack of urgency, however, after 57 minutes when Tornike Okriashvili headed an equaliser.

Georgia, dangerous on the counter-attack, could have gone on to win but Levan Mchedlidze missed when clean through and Valeri Qazaishvili hit the bar.

The other Group D matches, in which second-placed Serbia meet Austria, and bottom team Moldova play Ireland, were taking place later on Sunday.

Next month Wales is at home again, to Serbia, while Georgia play Moldova.

Mandzukic keeps Croatia ticking

Striker Mario Mandzukic continued his fine scoring form with an opportunist header as Croatia beat Finland 1-0 in its World Cup Group I qualifier in Tampere on Sunday.

The towering target man, who netted a hat-trick in Thursday's 6-0 away rout of Kosovo, pounced in the 18th minute after Andrej Kramaric turned an inviting Sime Vrsaljko cross into his path.

The result left Croatia top of the section on seven points from three games.

Looking a little flat after demolishing the Kosovans, Croatia were in control apart from a spell of second-half sporadic pressure from the home side.

The home side failed to create a clear-cut chance on a difficult pitch while, at the other end, Ivan Perisic hit the inside of the post in the 75th minute after a solo run.

Finland keeper Lukas Hradecky twice denied substitute Duje Cop in the closing stages as the home team ran out of steam and Croatia finished on a high note

In other fixtures, Ukraine defeated Kosovo 3-0 with goals from Kravets, Yarmolenko and Rotan.

Israel also defeated Liechtenstein 2-1.



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