Wales drop points again but coach upbeat

Gareth Bale looking dejected after Georgia stole a point in the match, which Euro 2016 semi-finalists Wales were expected to win easily.
Gareth Bale looking dejected after Georgia stole a point in the match, which Euro 2016 semi-finalists Wales were expected to win easily.PHOTO: REUTERS

CARDIFF • Chris Coleman tried to lift the mood of disappointment after his Wales side lost the lead for the second time in four days.

The team have bounced back from similar setbacks, notably reaching the Euro 2016 semi-finals in July after losing to England at the group stage.

But dropping two points at home to Georgia on Sunday was far more damaging than earning a creditable 2-2 draw in Austria.

It might have been much worse, with Georgia hitting the bar and skewing a good chance wide in the 1-1 World Cup qualifying draw.

Wales gambled by agreeing to three home games in their first four Group D fixtures and the stakes have risen for the visit of leaders Serbia next month, when they should be boosted by the return of midfielders Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen from injury.

Usually so brave and confident, Wales were mostly flat and ended up being afraid to take possession. It was a crushing disappointment.

The sense that Wales were expected to win was reinforced when the team walked off to a brief undercurrent of boos at Cardiff City Stadium.

"People are looking at it as two points dropped but (the two games) might have been two points gained at the end of the day," Coleman said. "Sometimes we slip up. If anybody can bounce back, this team can."

Unlike in the 4-0 win over Moldova last month, they could not kill off the game.

Leading through Gareth Bale's early header, Wales lost their intensity, momentum and control, returning from the restart disjointed and shapeless, compounded by their flurry of substitutions that opened up the midfield.

They threw away the lead as a result of dawdling from Neil Taylor.

The Swansea left-back's lack of game time probably contributed as he lagged behind Tornike Okriashvili, who ran on to Valeri Kazaishvili's deft diagonal chip and headed past Wayne Hennessey.

THE TIMES, LONDON, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 11, 2016, with the headline 'Wales drop points again but coach upbeat'. Print Edition | Subscribe