Tom Lawrence strike secures victory for Wales to boost qualification hopes
Wold Cup Qualification UEFA, Group D, Dinamo Arena - Georgia 0 Wales 1 (Lawrence 49')
A fine strike from Tom Lawrence, secured a 1-0 victory for Wales, who were without Gareth Bale, away at Georgia.
The result cements Wales’ position in second in Group D (they lead Ireland by four points), although the Republic of Ireland could close that back to one point when they play Moldova later this evening, before Wales and Ireland meet in the final group match on Monday.
The first half was a nervy affair, but Wales had their chances, with Lawrence guilty of missing the pick of the bunch from the edge of the box.
After the break, Wales stepped up the tempo, and took the lead four minutes into the second half, with Lawrence skipping past his marker before rifling the ball into the bottom corner from the edge of the box. What a time to score your first international goal.
Chris Coleman’s men had chances to make the game safe, but remained relatively untroubled defensively, despite Georgia enjoying the lion’s share of the possession. The win was Wales' first-ever against Georgia.
A second-ever World Cup appearance just got that bit closer for the Dragons. Now, onto Cardiff for Monday for what is shaping up to be a winner-takes-all clash with Ireland.
Wales' Tom Lawrence celebrates scoring their first goal with Aaron RamseyGetty Images
Gareth who? Much was made of Gareth Bale’s absence pre-match. In the nine games Wales have been without the Real Madrid star since August 2012, they’d won just the once before the trip to Tbilisi - make that twice now. Tom Lawrence was the match winner, but Wales remained a threat throughout, with Bale’s absence having little detrimental effect. There is more to Coleman’s side than just one man it seems.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Tom Lawrence. In Bale’s absence, Wales needed a new hero, and up stepped Lawrence when it really mattered. The Derby County forward missed a great chance in the first half, but he didn’t let that effect him, as he rifled in the winner just after the interval. Remained a constant threat throughout, and never stopped running.
Wales' midfielder Tom LawrenceGetty Images
Georgia: Loria 6, Kashia 5, Kverkvelia 6, Kankava 7, Kazaishvili 6, Kvekveskiri 6, Kvilitaia 7, Gvilia 6, Merebashvili 6, Kakabadze 8, Navalovski 6… Subs: Skhirtladze 6, Jighauri 6.
3’ - CHANCE! Penetrating run from Tom Lawrence, he carries the ball forward, threads it through for Aaron Ramsey, who takes a touch before firing just wide. Great opportunity early on.
16’ - SAVE! Another good chance for Wales as the ball drops kindly for Andy King, but he scuffs his volley into the ground, allowing Loria time to get across to palm the ball away.
36’ CHAAAANCE! Probably the best of the lot for Lawrence, who fires over from the edge of the box after Vokes had expertly laid the ball into his path. Had to at least hit the target from there.
49’ - GOAL!!!!! Georgia 0-1 Wales. What a strike from Lawrence. And what a time to score your first goal for your country! Incredible scenes here! Such a stunning goal, too. Lawrence touched the ball around his marker, lined up the shot, before rifling the ball into the bottom corner. Super, super goal.
79' - CHANCE! Best opportunity of the night for the hosts, as Merebashvilli finds himself in acres of space on the left, cuts inside, but a combination of Williams and Hennessey make the block.
Wales' Tom Lawrence scores their first goalReuters
- Wales are now unbeaten in their last nine international games (W4 D5); their longest run without defeat under Chris Coleman, who took charge in 2012.
- The Dragons have won three consecutive games without conceding for the first time since September 2015.
- This was Wales’ first ever win against Georgia in international competition, having drawn one and lost three of the previous four. They were beaten 5-0 in their only other game in Tbilisi (in 1994 under Mike Smith).
- Six of Tom Lawrence's last 10 goals for club and country have been scored from outside the box (60%).
- Lawrence’s goal was his first for Wales however, having failed to score in any of his first eight appearances.
- Aaron Ramsey has been directly involved in three of Wales’ last four goals away from home in this qualifying campaign (two goals and one assist).