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Bale on for beaten Wales, Trapattoni's Ireland reign effectively ends

ESPN staff
September 10, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
Gareth Bale made his first appearance since moving to Real Madrid for a world record fee © PA Photos
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Not even the appearance of Gareth Bale could save Wales as they slumped to the bottom of World Cup qualifying Group A with a 3-0 defeat against Serbia in Cardiff.

Goals from Filip Djordjevic, Aleksandar Kolarov and Lazar Markovic put the game well beyond Wales, who never looked like avenging the 6-1 mauling they suffered at the hands of the same opponents in Novi Sad a year ago.

Bale, a pre-match doubt due to a groin problem, appeared just before the hour to get his first action since joining Real Madrid to become the world's most expensive player. He almost scored a wonderful late free-kick, which was about as good as it got for the hosts.

Northern Ireland were beaten 3-2 by lowly Luxembourg as Mathias Janisch grabbed a late but deserved winner at the Stade Josy Barthel.

Martin Paterson had put his side ahead against the run of play and Gareth McAuley looked to have snatched a draw in the 82nd minute, but in between goals from Aurelien Joachim and Stefano Bensi gave a fairer representation of the match.

So porous was the visiting defence that a winning goal felt almost inevitable and it arrived when Janisch poked his shot through a mass of bodies in the 87th minute.

Ikechi Anya scored on his first international start before Shaun Maloney secured a 2-1 victory for Scotland with a stunning late free-kick in Skopje.

Anya caused Macedonia problems all night and finished brilliantly on the hour mark as Scotland were rewarded for taking the game to their hosts.

Substitute Matt Gilks made a number of excellent saves before Ivan Kostovski levelled in the 84th minute, but Maloney curled into the top corner to lift Scotland off the bottom of their World Cup qualifying group.

Giovanni Trapattoni's reign as Republic of Ireland manager effectively came to an end in Austria as David Alaba snatched a dramatic 1-0 victory.

Alaba, the man whose last-gasp strike in Dublin denied Ireland a win in March, repeated the dose 84 minutes into an encounter neither side could afford to lose to leave Austria clinging grimly to their hopes of claiming the runners-up spot in Group C.

That has now gone for Ireland, barring victories over leaders Germany and Kazakhstan by sizeable margins in their two remaining games and an unlikely series of results elsewhere.

On a night when three points were a must even before Sweden had won in Kazakhstan earlier, the Republic were simply unable to find a way to win.

Shaun Maloney guided Scotland to the win © PA Photos
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