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World Cup Round-Up: Wales Slip Up, Italy Get Lucky

CARDIFF, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 09: Tomike Okriashvili of Georgia celebrates his sides first goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier between Wales and Georgia at the Cardiff City Stadium on October 9, 2016 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

The European World Cup qualifiers continued on Sunday night as three groups played their fourth matches of the campaign.

To Group D first, where what was billed as a routine win for Wales against Georgia turned out to be anything but. Gareth Bale put the home side ahead after just nine minutes, but Tornike Okriashvili grabbed a deserved equaliser just before the hour mark. The two sides shared a point in the end but both will actually feel they could have won it.

CARDIFF, WALES - OCTOBER 09: Wales player Gareth Bale complains to the referee about shirt pulling during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Wales and Georgia at Cardiff City Stadium on October 9, 2016 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Republic of Ireland, meanwhile, made hard work of Moldova before securing a 3-1 win. Shane Long and a James McClean double sealed the win, though a Igor Bugayev leveller just before half time threatened to derail the Irish train.

In the other game of the group, Serbia defeated Austria 3-2 in Belgrade. Three times the home side took the lead, two from Aleksandar Mitrovic and Dusan Tadic, and while Austria equalised twice through Marcel Sabitzer and Marc Janko, they had no reply the third and final time.

In Group G, Italy made very hard work of it against Macedonia. A 24th minute goal from Andrea Belotti looked like setting them on their way, but a two-goal turnaround before the hour mark courtesy of Ilija Nestorovski and Ferhan Hasani threatened to cause an upset.

However, Ciro Immobile finally discovered his shooting boots and a goal in the 75th minute, added to by a 94th minute winner, gave Giampiero Ventura’s side a hard-fought 3-2 win.

SKOPJE, MACEDONIA - OCTOBER 09: Ciro Immobile of Italy celebrates after scoring the third goal during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between FYR Macedonia and Italy at Nacionalna Arena Filip II Makedonski on October 9, 2016 in Skopje, Macedonia. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

Group rivals Spain had a much easier time of it in Albania. Goals from Diego Costa and Nolito early into the second half ended the tie as a contest in was another dominant performance for Julen Lopetegui’s side.

In the group’s other game, a Tommer Hemed double helped Israel on their way to beating Liechtenstein 2-1, Max Gopel with the consolation for the visitors just after half time.

Finally to Group I, where Croatia defeated a defensively-minded Finland 1-0 in Helsinki. Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic scored the only goal of the game after 18 minutes, and the home side never really looked like responding in what was a poor game.

Finland's midfielder Janne Saksela (C), Croatia's defender Josip Pivaric (L) and Croatia's forward Andrej Kramaric (R) vie for the ball during the 2018 World Cup qualifier football match of Finland vs Croatia in Tampere, Finland, on October 9, 2016. / AFP / LEHTIKUVA / Antti Aimo-Koivisto / Finland OUT (Photo credit should read ANTTI AIMO-KOIVISTO/AFP/Getty Images)

Late goals from Andriy Yarmolenko and Ruslan Rotan made Ukraine’s 3-0 win at home to Kosovo look slightly more comprehensive. Up until the 81st minute, Amir Rrahmani’s own goal separated the sides in what was a far more even contest than Ukraine would have liked.

The final game in the group saw Iceland defeat Turkey 2-0 where an Omer Toprak o.g. and Alfred Finnbogason strike, in the 42nd and 44th minutes respectively, shocked the visitors enough to sap them of the will to fight back.

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.