Georgia 0-1 Wales: Lawrence winner keeps Welsh in pole position to make play-off

Tom Lawrence scored the only goal, as Wales won 1-0 in Tbilisi against Georgia for their 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying group D match.

Georgia 0-1 Wales: Lawrence winner keeps Welsh in pole position to make play-off
(photo: Getty Images / Levan Verdzeuli)

Tom Lawrence's first ever goal for his country was enough for Wales to win 1-0 in Georgia and keep them second in 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying Group D. 

Lawrence breaks his international duck

In the absence of superstar Gareth Bale, Wales manager Chris Coleman once again put his faith in young players to provide attacking support to sole striker Sam Vokes and, just like against Austria in September, his faith was repaid. 

The only goal of a tight affair came just four minutes into the second half courtesy of Derby County's wide man Lawrence, who bagged his first ever in a Wales shirt.

It was steady build-up play from Wales with Aaron Ramsey finding Lawrence down the middle who then ghosted past a defender before rifiling one right footed into the bottom left corner from 25 yards out, the Georgian keeper could have done better, but the 2,000 traveling Welsh fans couldn't care less. 

An effective Welsh performance

This Wales performance will not be up there with the most vintage of their efforts in the past three years, but this late in the qualifying campaign the result was all that mattered and this win has kept the pressure on Republic Of Ireland behind them and Serbia ahead of them in the group who play later in the day.

The Red Dragons started the game really well and had a clear cut chance less than three minutes in when Lawrence threaded a ball through for Ramsey down the middle, but he skewed his shot wide of the right post with the outside of his right boot.

The first save in the game was made in the 17th minute by George Loria who theatrically beat away Andy King's cross goal shot, which had bounced high off the turf. Loria and Wayne Hennessey in the opposite goal were both left relatively untroubled all game, with both teams wasting good openings in the final third. 

Lack of quality evident

With Bale not featuring for Wales and the Georgian's lacking difference makers from the start, the game never reached a high standard of quality and with various players not on the pitch the goal count for the game was never really going to be high.

The hosts didn't really unleash their best option until the 75th minute when winger Jambul Jighauri came on off the bench. Jighauri was a lot more direct in his methods than Georgia's other attacking players and he set up their best chance of the game when Giorge Merebashvili was found on the left side of the box and then cut inside only to unsuccessfully try and catch out Hennessey at his near post. 

State of the group

Wales still have an outside chance of winning their group by winning this one, but Serbia only need three points from two games to get straight to Russia next summer. Coleman's team have moved four points clear of the Republic Of Ireland ahead of their very winnable home game against Moldova tonight and assuming the Irish win it will setup a winner takes all clash in Cardiff on Monday night to take second in the group and secure a playoff spot.