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Club news

Mepham and Lerma keep World Cup hopes alive


AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

Chris Mepham played his part as Wales took one step closer to World Cup qualification in an enthralling night at Cardiff City Stadium.

The Cherries defender came on as a late substitute to help his national team hold on to a narrow lead against Austria and secure their place in the World Cup play-off final.

The 24-year-old earned his 27th cap and was part of the jubilant celebrations following the full-time whistle, also joined by Cherries teammate Kieffer Moore who missed the game due to injury.

Wales had Gareth Bale to thank as the Real Madrid midfielder came up with two moments of magic to put them in the driving seat - his majestic free-kick finding the top corner in the first half before beating the goalkeeper with a superb drive early in the second period.

Marcel Sabitzer’s deflected effort gave Austria some hope but Wales added Mepham to the proceedings to see the game out and secure the win.

Wales will now face Scotland or Ukraine in the final, which is likely to be played in June.  

Jefferson Lerma made an important cameo appearance as Colombia thrashed Bolivia to keep their World Cup qualification hopes alive. 

Liverpool’s Luis Diaz opened the scoring with a fine curling effort after 30 minutes before goals by Miguel Borja and Mateus Uribe confirmed the win.

Lerma replaced Diaz as an 84th minute substitute and played a pivotal role in the third goal, his excellent header crashing off the crossbar and falling kindly for Uribe to turn home from close range.

A win for Uruguay ensured they clinched the final automatic qualification spot so Colombia’s hopes rest on beating Peru to the single inter-confederation play-off place in the final round of action next week.

Peru, who lost to Uruguay, are a point above Lerma’s Colombia and face Paraguay in their final game on Tuesday, whilst Colombia face Venezuela knowing they need to better Peru’s result.

Ryan Christie was also in action as Scotland were pegged back by Poland in the last minute of their international friendly.

The winger played 77 minutes as Scotland dominated the visitors at Hampden Park, taking a deserved lead through Arsenal’s Kieran Tierney.

However, Krzysztof Piatek earned a controversial last-gasp penalty, stepping up himself to tuck home and prevent the Scots from a seventh consecutive win.

Under-18s goalkeeper Ollie Camis was an unused substitute as Wales under-17s were heavily beaten by Slovenia.

In the first of three games in the central European nation, Wales were bettered by goals from Jaka Čuber Potočnik, Niko Kasalo, Tine Čuk and Aleks Ristić.

Wales are next in action on Sunday when they take on Turkey in Gornja Radgona.

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