They Think it’s Moldova…it is Now

Alastair Watt

Georgia’s already slim hopes of reaching the 2018 World Cup in Russia were dealt a near fatal blow as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Moldova at Dinamo Arena on November 12.

A first-half opener by Vako Kazaishvili was cancelled out in stunning fashion by Alexandru Gatcan’s volley with twelve minutes remaining.

Vladimir Weiss’s hosts went into the Saturday night clash with fellow post-Soviet opponents in positive mind, having drawn in Wales on their last outing.

Indeed, a surprisingly large crowd of around 40,000 assembled, sensing a first win of the World Cup qualifying campaign. As one banner demanded: “It’s Time to Win”.

And it all started so well, with Georgia taking a 16th minute lead when Giorgi Navalovski’s cross eventually fell to Kazaishvili who curled home an unstoppable shot to prompt an eruption of noise from the home crowd.

Tornike Okriashvili then hit the side-netting, before Giorgi Kvilitaia was only denied by a superb Ilie Cebanu save on the half hour mark. The Georgian pressure mounted but a second goal, to their cost, would not materialize.

The second-half was largely forgettable but for a moment of brilliance in the 78th minute from Gatcan whose turn and volley from 25 yards stunned the whole stadium, Georgian goalkeeper Giorgi Loria included, as the ball looped into the home net to snatch a point for Moldovans.

A silent disbelief descended as the home fans trundled away from the stadium, yet another World Cup dream in smithereens after just four games.

17 November 2016 15:08