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 By PA Sport

Wales' Coleman philosophical after Mitrovic steals late point for Serbia

Chris Coleman promised there would be "twists and turns" after Wales were left playing catch-up in the race for a 2018 World Cup place.

Wales suffered late heartbreak on the road to Russia as Serbia striker Aleksandar Mitrovic cancelled out Gareth Bale's first-half goal five minutes from time.

The 1-1 Cardiff draw leaves Wales four points behind new Group D leaders the Republic of Ireland -- 1-0 winners in Austria earlier on Saturday evening -- ahead of their trip to Dublin on March 24.

"Ireland have set the tempo now, they're playing on the front foot and deserve to be top," Wales boss Coleman said.

"It's a great win for them and they are there on merit.

"But I think there will be twists and turns in the next six games.

"We've got to play Ireland home and away and the good thing for us is we can affect our own destiny.

"There's a lot of points to play for and we know it's going to be tough game in Dublin.

"But we probably couldn't have picked a better game because it's going to be a fantastic atmosphere.

"And we are well capable of going there and getting a result, we've proved that in the past."

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Bale fired Wales into a 31st-minute lead with his 26th international goal, putting him two behind the country's record scorer Ian Rush.

The Real Madrid forward almost clinched victory six minutes from time when his shot came back off the base of a post.

And Serbia -- who had dominated possession in the second half -- made the most of their good fortune when they went straight up the other end for Mitrovic to head home off a post.

"That's football," Coleman said. "We were an inch away from going 2-0 up, then the game's finished and we've got the three points.

"Seconds later the ball's in the back of our net. We hit the post and it pops out, they hit the post and it pops in.

"But I thought we were back at it tonight, the edge was back in our game.

"To lose the goal so late was a bitter pill to swallow, but it would be silly to criticise our performance.

"They gave everything they had, and people would be on dangerous ground if they looked at our players in a negative fashion."

Serbia coach Slavoljub Muslin expressed his delight at a draw which leaves Serbia two points off top, while adding that Southampton playmaker Dusan Tadic might need an operation on a suspected broken nose.

"We were very happy to equalise because we had more possession of the ball and more chances in the match," Muslin said.

"I was proud of our players and this group is going to be tight right to the end."

On Tadic -- who was caught by a stray Neil Taylor boot in the first half -- Muslin added: "There is a suspicion that his nose is broken and we have to determine whether he needs an operation or not."

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