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Cork Independent

Sport

World Cup hopes diminished

Wednesday, 6th September, 2017 6:01pm

Ireland face an uphill battle to qualify for the 2018 World Cup after a 1-0 loss to Serbia this week. The loss sees Ireland drop to third place in Group D, behind Serbia and Wales who secured a 2-0 win over Moldova on Tuesday night, the same night Ireland welcomed Serbia to Dublin.

With two games left in the group phase, all six points on offer are likely be needed to secure a playoff place following this week's loss and Saturday's 1-1 draw with Georgia. Ireland play Moldova on 6 October at home and three days later travel to Cardiff to face Wales on 9 October.

However manager Martin O'Neill believes his side can secure their spot, saying: “We have two games left and we can still make it. We were terrific in the first half, we just couldn't get that elusive goal. We threw caution to the wind at the end and could have got the result."

A terrific 55th minute strike from Aleksander Kolarov gave Darren Randolph no chance, and although Ireland spent last 20 minutes peppering the Serbian goal with shots, albeit most were at distance, Serbia held on for the win giving themselves a five point gap over Ireland as they face their final qualifiers next month against Austria and Georgia.

This was despite Nikola Maksimovic being shown a straight red in the 68th minute for a reckless challenge on Daryl Murphy. A win in either tie will see Serbia secure qualification and will leave Wales and Ireland battling it out for a possible play-off spot.

Despite a disappointing result, one pleasing note on the night was Cork's David Meyler who was awarded the man of the match award for his sensible and constructive defensive play while Bandon's Conor Hourihane was brought on for Meyler with 11 minutes remaining. However he failed in his attempts at salvaging a draw for the national side.

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