Serbia started well and finished even better as they grabbed a share of the points five minutes from time in Cardiff on Saturday night. Wales had gone ahead on the half-hour mark through a Gareth Bale laserbeam, and it was also the Real Madrid star who almost doubled their lead in the 85th minute. But his shot pinged off the post, Serbia went up the other end, and duly equalized via Aleksandar Mitrović. The Newcastle striker has five goals in his last four matches for club and country.
Either team could've won it long before then, as Wales often exposed the slow(er) Serbian defense, showing the world once again that a three-man defense may be a good idea, but it needs proper personnel and training to be truly effective. Captain Branislav Ivanović played as the right-sided center back (and did alright, except when isolated against speed), while Nemanja Matić took up his usual position in the midfield two alongside Olympiakos's Luka Milivojevic, who's certainly no N'Golo Kanté.
Matić did have a couple decent attacking forays in what was a rather decent display on the international stage, including a rasping shot that was unfortunately straight at Wayne Hennessey in the Welsh goal. Ivanović also had a header cleared off the line in the first half.
We could have played a lot better today but Wales is a tough nut to crack at home. Matic was a huge calming presence today, true leader.— Serbian Football (@SerbianFooty) November 12, 2016
With the point, Serbia stay second in the qualifying group, two points behind Ireland, who got a massive win in Austria earlier in the day. Meanwhile Wales, one of the darlings of Euro 2016, have just one win from four games.
This would prove to be the only Chelsea involvement for the day. César Azpilicueta and Victorien Angban both remained on the bench for Spain and Ivory Coast, respectively, while Bertrand Traoré wasn't even in the matchday squad for Burkina Faso. Apparently he's injured, though it's clear how badly, where, and for how long.