Serbia 1-1 Wales: Mitrovic denies visitors crucial World Cup qualifier win

first_imgWales fought out what could be a valiant World Cup draw as they held Group D leaders Serbia 1-1 in Belgrade.Aaron Ramsey had given Wales a 35th-minute lead – his ‘Panenka’ penalty coming at the same stadium where Czechoslovakia’s Antonin Panenka had put his name in football folklore with a chipped spot-kick at the 1976 European Championship.But Aleksandar Mitrovic, just as he had in Cardiff, proved Serbia’s saviour with a 73rd minute equaliser as the teams drew for the second time in seven months.Wales started in positive fashion without their talisman Bale and skipper Ashley Williams almost connected with Joe Ledley’s third-minute corner.Edwards and Aaron Ramsey were being asked to support Vokes quickly, while Serbia were slow to get their playmaker, Southampton’s Dusan Tadic, on the ball.Wayne Hennessey had to race out of his penalty area to complete one clearance, but Wales were untroubled in the opening quarter as Serbia failed to give their large support any encouragement.Serbia’s lack of attacking fluency persuaded skipper Branislav Ivanovic to fire from long range, but Hennessey saw the shot sail over his crossbar.But the attempt seemed to stir Serbia from their lethargy and Wales were grateful to clear Antonio Rukavina’s cross as the decibel levels were turned up.There was further concern in the Wales defence following some pinball in the visitors’ box and Aleksandar Mitrovic, scorer of Serbia’s late equaliser at Cardiff in November, sounded further warning of his aerial ability when he headed just wide.But Wales took a 35th-minute lead after Serbia goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic had inexplicably allowed the ball to run across his body and brought down Ramsey on the edge of his box in a wide position.Ramsey’s free-kick was heading towards Vokes when Portuguese referee Manuel De Sousa spotted a push on the big Burnley striker and pointed to the penalty spot.The stadium held its breath, but Ramsey was the coolest man in the ground as he chipped his penalty past Stojkovic, who had dived into the opposite corner.Wales survived a huge handball appeal at the start of the second half when Chris Gunter got in the way of a Serbian cross.But referee De Sousa was unimpressed and he was similarly unmoved when Nemanja Matic fell in the penalty box after a meandering run.Serbia were really ramping up the pressure and Joe Allen was forced into a challenge on Filip Kostic which brought the first yellow card, ruling the Stoke midfielder out of the next game with Austria in September.Aleksandar Kolarov almost provided further punishment but his 30-yard free-kick just dipped too late to trouble Hennessey.There was little respite for Wales, but they did momentarily release the siege to win a corner which Vokes headed over under pressure.Ramsey then broke clear again as Serbia started to push bodies forward, but he was just snuffed out in time. 1 The draw leaves Chris Coleman’s side four points adrift of the Group D leaders last_img

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