A strike out of the very top draw from youngster Tom Lawrence was enough for Wales to boost their hopes of reaching Russia 2018 with a narrow victory over Georgia in Tbilisi last night.
The visitors, under Chris Coleman, peppered the Georgia goal for the entirety and looked like they weren’t going to be able to claim a decisive victory at one stage until Lawrence struck on 49 minutes.
The Welsh are now just one point behind the Serbians at the top of Group D after they were defeated by Austria, whereas, Georgia sit in fifth after their chances of reaching Russia were ended months ago.
From the start, Georgian Manager Kakhaber Tskhadadze made two changes from the Side that earned a point in Austria last month as George Loria replaced Giorgi Makaridze in goal and Giorge Merebashvilli came in for Jano Ananidze in the attacking department.
Whereas, Chris Coleman decided on two changes from the away win in Moldova in September as injured Gareth Bale made way for Joe Ledley and Sam Vokes replaced Hal Robson-Kanu for The Dragons.
It would be that very Welsh Side that dominated the early proceedings on a warm night in the Georgian Capital, as Lawrence found Arsenal man Aaron Ramsey on three minutes but he could only fire narrowly wide.
Another Premier League midfielder, Leicester City’s Andy King, would go close shortly after with his scuffed volley just being tipped away by George Loria before reaching Vokes or Ramsey for a simple finish.
The Georgian defence were soon struggling to contain Wales as eventual goal-scorer Lawrence fired just over, before the home Side mustered up a rare chance of their own with forward Giorgi Kvilitaia heading just wide.
But, after Half-Time, it wouldn’t take the long for the Welsh to finally break the deadlock through former Manchester United star Tom Lawrence.
The attacking midfielder received a pass from Ramsey and showed delightful skill to get away from Saba Kverkvelia in a dangerous area before unleashing a stunning strike into the far corner that gave Loria no chance despite getting a faint hand to it.
The goal, Lawrence’s first for his Country, may just prove to be the strike that sends Wales to Russia, but Georgia came ever so close to spoiling the party just 12 minutes from time.
Valeri Kazaishvili fed Giorge Merebashvilli on the left side of the area, the attacker decided to dummy back onto his right foot, it took a combination of Wayne Hennessey and Ashley Williams to keep his effort out and Wales on the right track.
However, as Referee Jesus Gil Manzano blew his final whistle, the travelling Wales fans were the ones celebrating wildly in Tbilisi as their Nation claimed a pivotal away win.
But, for Georgia, their chances of finishing a disappointing Qualification campaign at home with a win were quashed but they can still bow out in some glory when they face Serbia away from home on Monday.
Whereas, Wales have now set up a huge clash at home to The Republic of Ireland on Monday night at The Cardiff City stadium.
Three points would guarantee them either a direct spot in Russia next summer or a place in The Play-Offs and who would write them off if they made it? After such an incredible EURO 2016.