Belfast Telegraph

Coleman keeps faith despite Wales' fifth draw in a row

Serbia 1 Wales 1

By Robert Jones

Wales boss Chris Coleman was last night refusing to give up on the World Cup finals after his side's 1-1 draw with Serbia - their fifth stalemate in a row.

Aaron Ramsey opened the scoring with an ice-cool Panenka penalty, but Wales - without the suspended Gareth Bale - were denied a precious victory by Aleksandar Mitrovic's equaliser and remain four points behind joint leaders Serbia and the Republic of Ireland.

Coleman said: "It was a great point. But we were 1-0 up, they weren't peppering Wayne Hennessey.

"You expect a tough game here, but we had chances over 90 minutes. You aren't going to come here and play open football, we did that before and you know what happened. We lost 6-1.

"I can't fault the players, they worked so, so hard. Joe Ledley hasn't played for three months and he gave me 90 minutes, incredible.

"We can't seal the deal. Last campaign we saw them out but that's where we are. We weren't standing there biting our nails.

"It's all to play for. Serbia have got to go to Austria and the Republic of Ireland. It will go down to the wire."

Sam Vokes, winning his 50th cap, was hauled down in the box while attempting to connect with a Rasmey free-kick and the referee pointed to the spot.

At the same stadium where Czechoslovakia's Antonin Panenka scored the winning goal in a shoot-out against West Germany in the 1976 European Championship final and gave his name to the chipped penalty, Ramsey repeated the act to give Wales a 35th-minute lead.

The Serbians ramped up the pressure thereafter, and levelled with 17 minutes left. Substitute Aleksandar Prijovic broke behind the Wales defence and his pass allowed Newcastle striker Mitrovic to skip past Ashley Williams and finish clinically.

It was a bitter blow for Wales, who had defended resiliently.

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