WC 2018 Qualifiers

Round up: Bale strikes twice for Wales as Kosovo make debut

9 games in all took place this evening in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers with teams from Groups D/G and I in action.

Round up: Bale strikes twice for Wales as Kosovo make debut
MARKKU OJALA DIARIO AS

Wales 4-0 Moldova

Gareth Bale scored two goals and created another as Euro 2016 sensations Wales crushed Moldova 4-0 in their opening 2018 World Cup qualifier in Cardiff on Monday.

The Real Madrid forward teed up Sam Vokes for a 38th-minute opener and then scored his 23rd and 24th international goals either side of an effort by Joe Allen, who registered his first.

Chris Coleman's Wales reached the semi-finals at Euro 2016 before losing to eventual champions Portugal and are seeking to qualify for their first World Cup since 1958.

"We had to get off to a good start in the first game," said Wales manager Coleman.

Serbia 2-2 Rep. of Ireland 

Daryl Murphy's first ever international goal secured the Republic of Ireland a 2-2 draw against Serbia in an entertaining 2018 World Cup qualifier on Monday.

Murphy had come on only four minutes before he restored parity after the hosts -- who have mounted a revival and are unbeaten in five games under 63-year-old coach Slavoljub Muslin -- had recovered from 1-0 down to lead 2-1.

Jeff Hendrick, whose impressive Euro 2016 performances earned him a move to English Premier League side Burnley last week, opened his account for the Irish in the third minute before the impressive Filip Kostic levelled with what was also his first goal for his country just after the hour mark.

Earlier in Group D: Georgia 1-2 Austria

Israel 1-3 Italy

Italy, reduced to 10-men, got their 2018 World Cup qualifying off to an impressive start by defeating Israel 3-1 in-front of a sold-out Sammy Offer stadium in Haifa Monday.

The victory marked new Italian manager Giampiero Ventura's first win as Azzurri boss.

Also in Group G:

Spain 8-0 Leichenstein 

Albania 1-1 FYR Macedonia: Match abandoned due to torrential rain on 75th minute mark, the reminder of the game will be played tomorrow. 

Finland 1-1 Kosovo

Valon Berisha made history on Monday, scoring Kosovo's first goal on their competitive debut as they came from behind to draw 1-1 away to Finland in a 2018 World Cup qualifier in Turku.

Berisha, a midfielder with Austrian champions Red Bull Salzburg, brilliantly converted a penalty on the hour mark at the Veritas Stadium after Bernard Berisha had been fouled in the area.

The goal gave Kosovo a precious point in qualifying Group I after Paulus Arajuuri had put Finland in front from close range in the 18th minute.

Kosovo were accepted into FIFA in May, and this was a remarkable result given that world football's governing body only gave their approval for a host of players to represent the Balkan outfit earlier on Monday.

Also in Group I:

Turkey 1-1 Croatia

Ukraine 1-1 Iceland