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Sunday 24 September 2017

Coleman: 'We're not giving up on top spot'

Wales boss Chris Coleman
Wales boss Chris Coleman

Wales boss Chris Coleman is determined to keep the pressure on group leaders Serbia in the race for World Cup qualification after their late show in Moldova.

Serbia's 1-0 win against the Republic of Ireland in Dublin means they need three points from their final two games to qualify for next summer's finals in Russia.

But Coleman insists Wales have not given up on top spot after their 2-0 win in Moldova moved them above the Republic into second place.

"It is in Serbia hands," Coleman conceded after late goals from Hal Robson-Kanu and Aaron Ramsey rewarded their dominance in Chisinau.

"A draw would have been quite good in Dublin. Ireland winning would have been better.

"Fair play to Serbia, they set the pace. It's theirs to lose.

"If we have to get through the play-off, no problem. Absolutely, no problem at all.

"We said we had to win the last four games. 50 per cent is done.

"We've got a huge game in Tblisi next (against Georgia), we have to try to keep it alive and keep going."

Serbia's first chance to tie up top spot next month comes in Austria before they entertain Georgia three days later.

Wales head to Georgia for their penultimate clash before their final qualifier at home to the Republic.

That Cardiff clash could decide second spot and qualification for the November play-offs, although the runner-up with the worst record from the nine groups will miss out.

"I think if you get 20 points you'd be unlucky not to get the play-off spot," Coleman said.

"That is the aim now. I've never been one to look beyond the next game, but realistically we have to get maximum points to give ourselves a chance of second.

"We've been here before and that experience will stand us in good stead.

"We can only do what we can do, take care of business."

Coleman admitted it was a "scary" night in Chisinau as Wales had to wait until 10 minutes from time to make the breakthrough.

When the goal came it was again down to Ben Woodburn, the 17-year-old Liverpool striker.

Woodburn scored on his debut against Austria on Saturday less than five minutes after coming on as a second-half substitute.

This time he crowned an impressive 30-minute performance by setting up Robson-Kanu's diving header with a wonderful run and cross.

Coleman said: "His experience was harder than in Cardiff, as we're a long way from home and the magnitude of the game as a point was no good.

"So for him to come on in a game, where it was frustrating for us most of the evening, and to do what he did then he needs another huge pat on the back.

"He's so young, but he showed again that he's good enough and capable enough."

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