Bale scores as Wales held to frustrating draw by Georgia

Date published: Sunday 9th October 2016 7:21

Wales: Held by Georgia in capital

Wales: Held by Georgia in capital

Wales conceded their first goal in a home qualified in over 480 minutes as they were held to a draw by Georgia at the Cardiff City Stadium.

Gareth Bale rose highest in the 10th minute to give the home side an early lead, nodding home a corner with trademark power and precision.

Tornike Okriashvili provided a second half leveller for Georgia however, answering with a header of his own after ghosting in behind the defence.

Levan Mchedlidze missed a late chance to be the visitors’ hero when he failed to convert late on, but the draw gave Georgia their first point after two defeats.

Wales had lost all three of their previous meetings against Georgia and have often struggled to break down stubborn opponents who defend deep in numbers.

Setting the tone

Gareth Bale

The absence of Allen and Ramsey put extra emphasis on Bale to perform, and the Real Madrid forward did not disappoint during a lively start which saw him rise majestically to move within three of Ian Rush’s record 28-goal tally.

Bale was clearly in the mood, running at defenders at every opportunity, and testing Georgia goalkeeper Giorgi Loria from a 25-yard free-kick which he himself had won.

Georgia were almost struggling for breath so quickly were Wales moving the ball, and after a brief lull in affairs, they were stretched again by a scorching Bale break.

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Davies won possession near his own corner flag and released Bale for a 60-yard burst which was only ended by a desperate block from Kverkvelia.

But Wales had a let-off after 33 minutes when King was penalised for handball right on the edge of the penalty area and Jano Ananidze’s curled effort touched the crossbar on the way through.

Wales needed a second goal to ease any nerves which may have existed among the sell-out Cardiff City Stadium crowd of 32,652.

A stunning reply

Okriashvili

And when it did not come there was Okriashvili to stun Wales with a firm header from Kazaishvili’s cross.

There was instantly a greater sense of urgency and Bale twice went close from range and Vokes came within inches of latching on to Chris Gunter’s ball which flashed across goal.

But Georgia carried a mounting threat on the break and carved out three great openings which left Wales clinging on.

Ananidze forced Hennessey into a full-length save, Levan Mchedlidze fired wide with the goal at his mercy and Kazaishvili struck the crossbar from 20 yards.

There was a late flurry from Wales but Bale, so often the saviour, this time sent his free-kick just wide and substitute Hal Robson-Kanu saw his shot saved by Loria.

But the result did not flatter Georgia and Wales will have to regroup before next month’s home qualifier against Serbia to get their World Cup show back on the road.

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