VIENNA • For Wales, it was a point that could have been three and a result that came at a cost.
Yet once the dust settles and Chris Coleman and his players clear their heads, they will come to view the 2-2 draw with Austria on Thursday as a valuable result.
Despite leading twice at the Ernst Happel Stadion in Vienna, Wales were never in control of the game.
Marko Arnautovic ruthlessly capitalised on some slack defending to earn Austria the draw that they deserved in the World Cup qualifier.
While Coleman was bitterly disappointed with the way Wales gave Austria and Arnautovic a second goal shortly after the interval, the sight of Joe Allen pulling up with a hamstring problem was every bit as troubling.
With fellow midfielder Aaron Ramsey already missing through injury, the loss of Allen is a blow that Wales could do without ahead of tomorrow's home match against Georgia. The Stoke City player opened the scoring against Austria with a brilliant volley - his third goal in as many matches for club and country. And Wales will badly miss his craft and guile against a Georgia side who are likely to go to Cardiff with the intention of frustrating Coleman's team.
The manager said that Allen "had a twinge in the hamstring" and revealed that the 26-year-old would undergo a scan to establish the extent of the problem. He made it clear, however, that Wales would not be prepared to take any risks and it seems highly unlikely that Allen will feature against Georgia.
The result left both teams with a win and a draw from their opening two games, the same as Ireland and Serbia.
Top seeds Wales, ranked 10th in the world, have the best goal difference.
Wales, handed a second goal when the ball bounced in off Austrian defender Kevin Wimmer, have reached the World Cup Finals only once, in 1958. But after their surprise semi-final showing at Euro 2016, they are expected to qualify for the tournament in Russia.
Coleman was the first to admit that it was not pretty to watch. It says much about this Wales performance that they looked most dangerous when talisman Gareth Bale was taking long throws. Yet there was also satisfaction to be taken from the result they gleaned in difficult circumstances.
"People look at us, because of what happened in (Euro 2016), and think we will come into this campaign and play every game as if we're Barcelona or Spain, but it just doesn't work like that," the Wales manager said.
"Sometimes you have to pick a result up and play ugly and that was how you would describe that performance tonight."
THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS