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Wales thrashed in Serbia
Wales' World Cup aspirations lie in tatters after an inept display at the Karadjordje Stadium saw them roundly thumped 6-1 by Serbia.
Woeful defending played a major part in Wales' heaviest defeat since 2006 and Aleksandar Kolarov and Zoran Tosic had the hosts 2-0 up inside 25 minutes.
Gareth Bale gave Wales hope with a stunning free-kick but Filip Duricic got a third for the hosts before the break and Dusan Tadic, Branislav Ivanovic and Miralen Sulejmani completed the rout.
The hope that this generation of Wales players were ready to end a run of having not reached a World Cup finals since 1958 had flourished under the stewardship of the late Gary Speed. But since his death Wales have lost five in a row and the dispiriting manner of this defeat suggests the wait will extend beyond the end of this campaign.
It was no surprise when Wales fell behind after 15 minutes. Chelsea's Ivanovic won a soft free-kick out of Simon Church on the right edge of the area and Kolarov stepped up to curl a left-footed effort over the wall and beyond Boaz Myhill, who was slow to react to the strike.
The deficit doubled in the 24th minute, with Kolarov this time the creator amidst comedy defending. The left-back looked to have been stopped by Ashley Williams but he slipped away from the centre-half and Chris Gunter to get away a shot from near the byline. Myhill blocked that effort but Tosic had the simple task of converting the follow-up.
Bale gave them a lifeline just after the half-hour mark as he picked himself up after being fouled by Milan Bisevac to thump home a superb swerving free-kick from almost 30 yards.
But Wales' defensive frailties resurfaced to undermine their attempt at a recovery as Darcy Blake's awful defensive header allowed Tadic to play in Djuricic, who went round Matthews and fired high into Myhill's net.
Tadic struck the fourth in the 55th minute, Ivanovic dispossessing Bale and beating Ricketts down the right before sliding the ball across to give Tadic a simple finish. Wales were once again guilty of making problems for themselves when it came to the fifth goal as Blake surrendered possession on the edge of his own area and home skipper Ivanovic capitalised to slide a right-footed effort into the bottom corner.
Substitute Sulejmani then rounded off the scoring as his deflected strike looped in over Myhill. The goal made this Wales' worst result since the 7-1 loss to Holland under Bobby Gould in 1996, on the most miserable of nights for the visitors.