TBILISI, Georgia (AP) Wales beat Georgia 1-0 away without injured star Gareth Bale on Friday to keep alive its chances of qualifying automatically for next year’s World Cup in Russia.
Tom Lawrence scored the winning goal for the 2016 European Championship semifinalists in the 49th minute, when he spun his marker and sent in a low shot from 20 meters that proved too powerful for the goalkeeper to keep out.
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Wales moved a point behind Serbia, which plays Austria later Friday and can guarantee first place in Group D with a win in Vienna.
Third-placed Ireland must beat Moldova at home to stay within a point of Wales, ahead of a meeting between the two Celtic rivals in Cardiff on Monday in the final round of qualifiers.
If the Serbs fail to beat Austria, they can clinch qualification with a win at home to Georgia on Monday.
Bale was missing for the Welsh at Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena in Tbilisi because of a calf muscle strain, sustained while playing for Real Madrid. He will also miss the match against Ireland.
The group winner qualifies automatically for the finals in Russia. The best eight second-place finishers from the nine groups in the European zone advance to the playoffs.