Serbia loss gives Wales and Ireland fresh hope in qualifying
VIENNA (AP) — Serbia failed to clinch a World Cup berth in Vienna and lost instead, giving fresh hope to Wales and Ireland in qualifying on Friday.
Serbia only had to beat already-eliminated Austria. It squandered the opening goal, came back to draw 2-2 then conceded a long-range goal in the 89th minute for Austria to win 3-2.
The Serbs can still secure top spot in Europe Group D and the automatic qualifying berth that comes with it on Monday, with a home win against Georgia.
But Wales was only a point behind in the standings after beating Georgia 1-0 away without Gareth Bale, and Ireland was only a point behind Wales after defeating Moldova 2-0 in Dublin.
Wales and Ireland meet on Monday, with both in with a shot at advancing.
The group winner qualifies automatically for the finals in Russia. The best eight second-place finishers from the nine groups in Europe advance to playoffs.
Luka Milivojevic boosted Serbia confidence after only 11 minutes at Ernst Happel Stadium with the opening goal from outside the area.
But Austria equalized through Guido Burgstaller in the 25th, held it through the interval, and stunned Serbia by taking the lead in the 76th through Marco Arnautovic.
Midfielder Nemanja Matic appeared to rescue a point for the Serbs with seven minutes left in regulation, only for Austria to strike again when Louis Schaub struck home a long-range winner in the 89th.
Tom Lawrence scored the winning goal for Wales, the 2016 European Championship semifinalists, in the 49th minute, when he spun his marker and sent in a low shot from 20 meters that proved too powerful for the goalkeeper to keep out.
Bale was missing for the Welsh at Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena in Tbilisi because of a calf muscle strain, sustained while playing for Real Madrid. He will also miss the match against Ireland.
IRELAND STAY ALIVE
A double strike by Daryl Murphy, who had only one goal in his previous 29 internationals, spurred Ireland past Moldova and on to a showdown in Cardiff on Monday.
After only two minutes, Stephen Ward’s long throw was flicked on by Ciaran Clark into Murphy’s path. Then a cross by Ward was headed in by Murphy in the 19th.