Wales will have to wait after Belgium beat Cyprus

Wales' Simon Church (right) and Gareth Bale (left) react after having a late goal disallowed for offside during the 2016 qualifying match at the Cardiff City Stadium
Picture: PA 
Phil Blanche

WALES' wait to secure their place at Euro 2016 next summer goes on after Belgium grabbed a late winner in Cyprus.

The Group B leaders were held up by Israel in a goalless draw in Cardiff when victory would have secured Wales' first appearance at a major tournament since the 1958 World Cup.

Wales would still have qualified had Belgium failed to win in Cyprus in the later kick-off and for much of the Nicosia contest it looked as if that wish of manager Chris Coleman and his players would come true. But Chelsea forward Eden Hazard struck for Belgium four minutes from time and Wales still need one point from their final two matches in October to make it to France.

"It's a shame for our supporters who wanted to celebrate, but it [qualification] is coming," Coleman said after watching his side dominate against Israel but fail to score.

"The expectation was there to get us over the line but now we have to wait that little bit longer. It wasn't the party today everyone wanted, but it's four vital points from two games and I would have taken that before the Cyprus game on Thursday."

Wales remain huge favourites to qualify next month with a trip to Bosnia-Herzegovina preceding the visit of group whipping boys Andorra, who have lost 52 competitive games in-a-row. Even if Wales lost their last two remaining games, they could only be denied one of the top two spots if Israel won their final two matches - at home to Cyprus and away to Belgium.

Wales edged closer to France by keeping a clean sheet in a fifth consecutive competitive game for the first time, but they could not make their pressure count at the other end. Andy King twice went close, Gareth Bale forced an excellent late save from Israel goalkeeper Ofir Marciano and substitute Simon Church had a header rightly disallowed in the final seconds.

Coleman also felt Wales should have been awarded a 66th-minute penalty when Bale's cross struck Eytan Tibi on the arm with Hal Robson-Kanu waiting to pounce.

"It was a penalty all day long - we should have had one in Cyprus as well," Coleman said.

"I won't complain too much, but it's a blatant handball. I don't know what the officials behind the goal are doing to be honest, when they have the best decision, they've got to make the call.

"How many times do you see that? I've never seen it, other than the penalty against us in Andorra! There is a shade of disappointment, but I couldn't ask for any more from the players.

"We had all the possession and chances but Israel came for a point and not to get beaten. We needed to score early and in that first 20 minutes we were right on top.

"When you don't score, it can sometimes come back to haunt you, but a point is important." 


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