Published: Tue, October 10, 2017
Sports | By Mabel Barber

Spain beats Albania to score World Cup berth

Spain beats Albania to score World Cup berth

Republic of Ireland's James McClean celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game during the World Cup 2018 Group D qualifying soccer match between Wales and the Republic of Ireland at the Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff, Wales, Monday, Oct. 9, 2017.

Wales are now second in Group D, with the Republic behind them by just one point.

Wales require a win to ensure their spot in the World Cup playoffs and should be safe with a draw.

Serbia lead the group on 18 points but if Georgia can manage a shock win in Belgrade then a win in Cardiff would see Martin O'Neill's men finish in first place on 19 points. "It wasn't really a battle where we had to properly defend and defend, we just had to make sure that we didn't give anything stupid away".

Best remembered for the one-off usage of an all-grey kit, it was the last competitive game played before the glory days of the Giovanni Trapattoni era.

The 3-1 loss to the reigning world champions means they are at +5 in goal difference on the runners-up table. This will be a much tougher opponent with astronomically higher stakes for both teams and the home-field advantage may not be enough for Wales to get the favorable result.

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Manager King said: "We go into the game full of confidence".

Elsewhere in Group E, Denmark were held 1-1 by Romania in Copenhagen after Ciprian Deac's late header cancelled out Christian Eriksen's second-half penalty, but the point was enough to secure the Dane's play-off place.

"There is nothing for the players to fear", said Coleman. Yet it was clear that they would have to attack more purposefully after the interval and it was a beautifully taken goal that changed the complexion of the match. Whoever wins this match could be heading to the World Cup qualifying play-offs.

The game against Moldova was always going to be about the result only, with anything other than three points sure to end Ireland's hopes. If Wales draw and Serbia lose to Georgia by two goals or more Wales will qualify as group winners.

Wales are slight favourites for the win with the draw priced at 2/1.

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