Wales will keep on fighting, says Bale

Gareth Bale, who gave Wales the lead, watching his shot go past Serbia goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic - and onto the post on 85 minutes in Cardiff. Just 45 seconds later, the hosts conceded and the World Cup qualifier ended 1-1.
Gareth Bale, who gave Wales the lead, watching his shot go past Serbia goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic - and onto the post on 85 minutes in Cardiff. Just 45 seconds later, the hosts conceded and the World Cup qualifier ended 1-1.PHOTO: REUTERS

CARDIFF • Wales were disappointed and unhappy to concede a late goal in Cardiff on Saturday, said talisman Gareth Bale after the home team were held 1-1 by Serbia in a World Cup qualifier.

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 Chris Coleman's side had squandered a lead in the campaign, 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 after half an hour 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. But we believe we can still do it, we just need to keep working hard."

Midfielder Joe Ledley said: "We are proud of our performance. It's Ireland away next and that's a must-win game."

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.

"The players are absolutely devastated," Coleman said.

A win over a strong Serbia team would have made up for the frustration of being pegged back at home against Georgia last month and allowed Wales to apply some pressure on Ireland at the top of the group.

Instead, Wales will travel to Dublin in March with no margin for error.

From Coleman's point of view, coming up against Martin O'Neill's side next is just what Wales need.

"We know it's going to be one of the hardest games and that's what we need," he said.

"Ireland are playing on the front foot, playing with confidence - they deserve to be top. It's going to be a fantastic test and challenge for us, and we look forward to that."

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

"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."

Serbia's next game is against Georgia on March 24.

REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 14, 2016, with the headline 'Wales will keep on fighting, says Bale'. Print Edition | Subscribe