World Cup 2018 qualifying: Ireland boost prospects with Austria draw but Serbia equaliser dents Wales hopes

 
Frank Dalleres
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Walters kept Republic of Ireland joint top with his late goal (Source: Getty)

Republic of Ireland boosted their World Cup qualification hopes with a battling draw against Austria on Sunday, but Wales’s prospects of reaching next year’s tournament suffered a blow in Belgrade.

Stoke forward Jonathan Walters volleyed Ireland’s equaliser five minutes from time to claim a 1-1 draw and keep Martin O’Neill’s team level with Group D leaders Serbia on 12 points.

The visitors had taken the lead through defender Martin Hinteregger in the 31st minute but might have left the Aviva Stadium with nothing had Shane Duffy’s last-gasp effort not been ruled out.

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Wales, meanwhile, face an uphill task to escape Group D after their weakened side failed to see out victory in Serbia.

Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey put Chris Coleman’s men in front with a cheeky first-half penalty, but Newcastle forward Aleksandar Mitrovic levelled to make it 1-1 and keep Serbia and Republic of Ireland four points clear with four matches left.

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