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Wales open three-point lead in Group B after Bale heroics

PA Reporter

GARETH BALE fired Wales into the box seat for Euro 2016 qualification, claiming the only goal in a hugely-creditable 1-0 victory over Belgium in Cardiff.

The Real Madrid star pounced on a defensive error to slot his 17th Wales goal on his 50th cap and send Chris Coleman's side top of Group B.

Wales overhauled Belgium to seize the summit in the standings, to the delight of home fans at the Cardiff City Stadium.

For all their stars Belgium were unable to turn the tables on Wales after that 25th minute goal, Eden Hazard, Thibaut Courtois and company suffering their first defeat in qualifying.

Wales remain undefeated however, and fully on course to qualify for next summer's European Championships.

Croatia and Italy played out a 1-1 draw to maintain the status quo in Group H.

Mario Mandzukic handed the hosts the lead, before Antonio Candreva converted a penalty.

Neither side could find a winner in a second half where Croatia captain Dario Srna was sent off for a second bookable offence at the death.

The draw leaves Croatia top of the pile and Italy in second place - but there may be repercussions for the hosts after the behind closed doors contest in Split.

Fans were excluded from the Stadion Poljud as a result of racist chanting in their meeting with Norway and further questions will be put to the Croatian Football Federation as a swastika had somehow been visibly carved into the playing surface prior to kick-off.

Ivelin Popov fired the only goal to hand Bulgaria 1-0 victory in Malta, while Norway slumped to a 0-0 home draw with Azerbaijan.

Cyprus cut the gap on Israel in the fight for third spot elsewhere in Group A, courtesy of a 3-1 victory in Andorra.

Bosnia Herzegovina inflicted a 3-1 defeat on Israel, allowing Cyprus to draw level on points with their rivals.

Cyprus won thanks to a hat-trick from Nestor Mytidis, that allowed them to make light of Junior Dossa Momade's second-minute own goal.

Edin Visca scored twice and Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko also netted as Bosnia eased past Israel, who could only respond through Tal Ben Haim Jr.

Holland dragged their own qualification battle back on course, stuttering for the most part but finally despatching Latvia 2-0 in Riga.

Guus Hiddink's men cemented third spot in Group A thanks to late goals from PSV team-mates Georginio Wijnaldum and Luciano Narsingh.

Iceland moved top of Group A with a 2-1 victory over the Czech Republic, with Aron Gunnarsson and Kolbein Sigthorsson on target for the hosts.

Boreck Dockal responded but the Czechs were unable to stop Iceland leapfrogging them to take control in the standings.

Tukey boosted their precarious qualification chances courtesy of a shaky 1-0 victory in Kazakhstan.

The visitors moved on to eight points in Group A, Arda Turan firing the winner seven minutes from time.

Defeat leaves Kazakhstan rooted to the foot of Group A with one draw and five losses from their six qualifiers.

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