Wales ready for crunch battle without Gareth Bale, says Chris Coleman
- Author: Leroy Wright Jun 17, 2017,
Jun 17, 2017, 16:34
Aaron Ramsey gave Chris Coleman's men a first half lead with a cheeky penalty but they were again pegged back by an Aleksandar Mitrovic equalizer after the break.
Wales remain four points off the top in third place but they know they will probably have to win their four remaining matches to give themselves a chance of heading to Russian Federation next summer.
But this time Wales stayed in the race for 2018 World Cup qualification after Ramsey had scored a Panenka penalty, coolly chipping his spot-kick past Serbia goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic who had dived the opposite way.
Wales manager Chris Coleman said he was happy with the outcome although he conceded his side needed to win all their remaining games to qualify for their second successive major tournament after reaching the Euro 2016 semi-finals.
All games will be played on September 2. You expect a tough game here but we had chances over 90 minutes. "To go to these sort of places under pressure is something we know about".
Serbia head coach Slavoljub Muslin had cut a disconsolate figure from the moment Wales took the lead, often showing his displeasure at the decisions of Portuguese referee Manuel de Sousa, but Newcastle striker Mitrovic put a smile back on his face with his late equaliser. Allen drove through the midfield and slid a ball through for Ramsey on the right side of the box, but he was denied by Vladmir Stojkovic who made a crucial save with his legs at the near post.
"You go to these places and it's nearly like a stage in the game where there's a power play", Coleman said.
Ramsey's 35th-minute Panenka penalty could not have come at a more apposite venue.
Amazingly, the penalty made famous by Panenka - the shoot-out victor in the 1976 European Championship final against West Germany - was scored at the same Belgrade stadium.
"For me, it was the worst night in a Welsh shirt", Allen said. "His input was enormous". And the penalty - the noise the supporters make here is incredible but it didn't matter to him. It's an old stadium but the atmosphere is fantastic and we thrived under the pressure. We've got to a certain level and then just lacked a bit of concentration.
But not only was Ramsey's spot-kick at the same ground once known as the Red Star Stadium, it was actually taken at the same end.
For it was on June 11 a year ago that Wales beat Slovakia 2-1 in their Euro 2016 opener; the Bordeaux clash marking the start of an incredible journey at the nation's first major tournament since 1958.