Wales 1-1 Serbia: Gareth Bale strike cancelled out by late Aleksandar Mitrovic header
Last Updated: 13/11/16 8:50am
Serbia's Aleksandar Mitrovic condemned Wales to their third straight draw in World Cup qualifying, equalising five minutes from time to nab a 1-1 draw on Saturday.
It was a cruel blow to Wales as 50 seconds earlier Gareth Bale, who scored the opening goal, had hit the post.
Bale's goal was his fourth of the campaign and moved him to within two goals of Ian Rush's all-time record tally of 28.
Following Republic of Ireland's 1-0 win over Austria that took them top of the group on 10 points, this was a pivotal game for the Welsh, who are now four points behind the table toppers after winning just one of their four matches.
Wales travel to Dublin to face the Republic of Ireland in their next World Cup Qualifier in March.
Aaron Ramsey returned from hamstring trouble for Wales in an attack-minded team with Sam Vokes and Hal Robson-Kanu starting up top. The switch from 5-3-2 to 4-3-3 didn't affect the Welsh unity as they pressed and passed the ball well in early stages.
Bale had an early sighter from 25 yards but blazed wide with his right foot.
Serbia went close on 19 minutes when Branislav Ivanovic powered a header towards the bottom corner but Neil Taylor did his job of protecting the post by diverting the ball off the line with his chest.
Wales took the lead through a familiar source on the half hour.
Robson-Kanu chased a lost cause down the left flank and robbed an unaware Matija Nastasic just outside the box. The West Brom striker shifted the ball to Bale, 20 yards out, and he fired a low effort with his left foot under the body of Vladimir Stojkovic, whose positioning could be questioned.
Robson-Kanu nearly went from provider to scorer minutes later but he headed a Bale cross wide from 10 yards after a flowing move down the left wing.
Serbia rarely threatened after the break as Joe Ledley and Ramsey did a great job of cutting the supply to Dusan Tadic, who took a hefty whack on his nose in the first-half and looked off the pace.
With Wales in full control, Bale had an outstanding chance to seal the points on 85 minutes.
Ramsey slipped him in behind and he reversed a lovely strike across goal with his right foot that looked to be heading into the bottom corner but bounced back off the post and just evaded substitute Tom Lawrence, who would've had a tap in.
With the home crowd in full voice seemingly ready to celebrate a huge win, Serbia equalised out of nothing.
Antonio Rukavina was given far too much room to cross from the right flank and Newcastle United's Mitrovic rose highest to power a header in off the far post. It was his seventh goal in his last six games for club and country.
At the full-time whistle, Wales manager Chris Coleman looked to the skies. This was two points dropped.