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Mixed fortunes for Royals in World Cup qualifying

10 October 2016

Round up of Reading players in international action

There were differing fortunes for the three Royals in action during the second batch of World Cup qualifiers from the UEFA confederation.

Chris Gunter’s Wales, Paul McShane’s Ireland and Sandro Wieser’s Liechtenstein were all in action on Sunday evening… here’s a round-up of how they got on.

Wales, who created one of football’s fairytale stories of 2016, were brought back to earth with a 1-1 draw at home against Georgia, thanks to a second-half goal by Tornike Okriashvili.  The Georgians, who have never qualified for a World Cup finals competition as an independent nation, had lost their opening two games in this qualifying campaign – but they threw something of a spanner in the works in Cardiff.

Right-back Chris Gunter once again played the full 90 for Wales – and it might have been plain sailing for his nation after Gareth Bale headed the hosts into a 10th-minute lead from Joe Ledley’s corner.  But spurned opportunities either side of the break allowed Okriashvili to guide a header past Wayne Hennessey from a deep cross for the leveller.

It might have been worse for Wales, should Valeri Kazaishvili’s hammered effort have crept under the bar rather than cannoning away off it.  But ultimately it earned a point to Wales, and added to the one earned in Austria, leaves them third in Group D after three games.

They sit a place behind Wales in the standings, whose 3-1 win against Moldova meant six points taken over the break, following a 1-0 home win against Georgia earlier in the weekend.  Our captain Paul McShane was an unused sub in both matches.

It was former Royal Shane Long who found space to latch onto a through-ball and finish coolly before the two-minute mark had been reached.  However Igor Bugaiov levelled in equally ice-cold manner for the Moldovans as the game entered added time at the end of the first period, picking a spot to beat Darren Randolph.

West Brom winger James McClean restored the lead in a close-range scramble though, before striking a second for himself and a third for Ireland to seal the deal with 15 minutes from time.

Sandro Wieser and Liechtenstein made Israel work for the points in Jerusalem – but ultimately the hosts did seal the points to confine the visitors to a 2-1 defeat.  The Royals midfield man played the entirety for his nation.

It was Brighton striker Tomer Hemed who opened the scoring – he got to a corner ahead of Robin Gubser and headed in – despite the best efforts of Maximilian Göppel on the goal-line.  The Seagulls struck again in the 16th minute, guiding in a header from a clipped delivery from the left.

The visitors didn’t let it turn into a rout – instead they fought back strongly.  Some bold play from midfielder Nicolas Hasler allowed him to get to the byline to cross for Göppel, who halved the deficit with a well-taken half-volley.  However they couldn’t complete the turnaround, meaning they sit bottom of the group without a point from their first three games.  Liechtenstein host Italy and Macedonia in November – the latter are also yet to register their first point.

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