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Lack of goals in Cardiff sees under 2.5 backers rewarded

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Wales only managed to draw 1-1 versus World Cup finalists Croatia despite needing a win to help them achieve automatic qualification for the European Championships.

A draw was 23/10 beforehand and the lack of goals was predictable with under 2.5 goals being 8/13.

Wales now sit in 4th place in their group and four points behind second-place Hungary but the Dragons do have a game in hand.

Whataretheodds.co.uk spokesman Spencer James commented:

“An entertaining game in Cardiff but ultimately Wales would be a little disappointed with the draw. Ryan Giggs’s side now need two wins out of two to have any chance of Euro qualification”

Croatia controlled the game for the first eight minutes but it was Wales who had the first big moment. Dan James ran through on goal but was barged off the ball by Dejan Lovren in the box. The winger and Welsh fans were screaming for a penalty but the referee did not deem it worth giving a penalty for.

Both James and Lovren will meet each other again in just a week when their respective clubs Liverpool and Manchester United face off in what will be an enthralling Premier League contest.

The Dragons gained confidence from that half chance and committed men forward in a bid to get the crucial opening goal. However, Ryan Giggs’ side paid for it.

They lost possession in the middle of the park, which sparked a brilliant counter with Josip Brekalo carrying the ball with pace and trickery. The winger played the ball into striker Bruno Petkovic who laid it off to Nikola Vlasic.

The midfielder struck an effort which squeezed past a flailing Wayne Hennessey to give Croatia an important lead. The 22-year-old was 9/1 to score anytime and punters who had that bet down will be rewarded with their impressive faith.

Zlatko Dalić’s men did not ease up just because they managed to get the opening goal. Three minutes after their goal, Petkovic played a superb cross into Bayern Munich forward Ivan Perisic, who had ghosted behind the defence.

The 30-year-old headed into the bottom corner but Crystal Palace keeper Hennessey made a fine stop to deny the Croat’s going two up.

A minute later Dan James was clattered into by defender Domagoj Vida who struck the winger’s head with a high knee. The youngster was down for a few minutes but the Welsh medical team fixed him up and the former Swansea man was back on the pitch.

A yellow card was given to Vida by referee Björn Kuipers for the nasty challenge meaning the defender will be suspended for the next qualifying match for Croatia.

Following on from that incident, the game seemed to slow down with both teams failing to create any chances.

It took until the first-half stoppage time for either side to create a huge chance and it was the Welsh. Tottenham Hotspur left-back Ben Davies played through Gareth Bale after great work to win the ball back on the edge of the box.

The Wales captain, who was 11/8 to score, skipped past Lovren to slot home a much-needed equaliser to give his team an opportunity to automatically qualify for the Euros.

The second half started in dramatic fashion with Petkovic colliding with Ethan Ampadu leaving the youngster in a similar state in which James was left in, in the first half.

Speaking of James, he had a decent opportunity in the 54th minute but his shot went straight into the hands of Croatia keeper Dominik Livakovic.

The second half was much like the first half with both teams unable to carve out any opportunities. They each had promising moves but the final ball was lacking, which was evident by each side having 5 shots each.

Joe Allen picked up a late booking meaning he will miss Wales’ trip to face Azerbaijan leaving Ryan Giggs sweating on the availability of the injured Aaron Ramsey.

Despite eight minutes of stoppage time added on, neither side could find the breakthrough to secure three points.

I am a passionate football fan studying in Swansea University. I have written for a number of football based publications including 90min. You can contact me via my email here, or connect and view my linkdin profile

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