Wales beat Georgia to keep qualification hopes alive

Posted October 07, 2017

The World Cup hopefuls took another step closer to booking their place in the play-off spots with a 1-0 win over Georgia courtesy of a superb Tom Lawrence strike.

Chances were few and far between but Derby County's Lawrence produced a quality finish to break the deadlock.

"I always knew this was going to be a tight group and always thought it would go the wire", Wales manager Chris Coleman said. It's a dream come true. Michael Gómez, who has been teaching Bale Spanish for two years, says that the player's understanding and use of the language is much better than he thinks but like many people who learn a new language, he worries about making mistakes.

"It will be a sensational atmosphere - we welcome the pressure", said Coleman.

Their record without Bale does not make pretty reading - Wales have not won any of their last 10 games when the 28-year-old has been absent - but midfielder Edwards believes the leaders in the squad have to stand up.

They next face the Republic on Monday in Cardiff, with the runners-up spot and a potential play-off to reach Russian Federation next year may be on the line.

Bale remains the team's inspiration, yet despite being its top scorer in qualifying with four goals, he hasn't reached the heights of Euro 2016 qualifying when he netted seven of Wales' 11 goals. Ireland, though, will be a tough match for the Welsh.

Lawrence's long-range strike on only his ninth global appearance followed Liverpool teenager Ben Woodburn's stunning goal to beat Austria.

Wales and Ireland meet on Monday, with both in with a shot at advancing.

Lawrence, 23, starting his third Wales game in succession and growing in confidence, burst through on the left and weighted a flawless pass to Aaron Ramsey. Penetrating run from Tom Lawrence, he carries the ball forward, threads it through for Aaron Ramsey, who takes a touch before firing just wide.

Ashley Williams' well-struck back-pass gave Wales a moment of concern but the defender's diagonal pass soon set up another opening.

Coleman, however, is not thinking beyond Georgia and expects his players to do likewise.

No wonder Wales have drifted from odds-on to [2.04] and they still look risky even at the longer odds.

Lawrence has forced his way into the starting side recently and he came to the fore in the Georgian capital. Loria got a hand to it but the power was too great.

Former Wales worldwide Giggs had to make major changes to ensure his Manchester United career lasted until beyond his 40th birthday and he believes Bale should do the same to stop injuries from defining him. Giorgi Merebashvili seemed to overcomplicate things when he twisted one way and then the other before seeing his shot repelled by Hennessey, and Wales hearts were in mouths again when Kakabadze escaped down the right late on, only to wastefully overhit his cross.