Serbia Returns To The World Cup After Winning Weak Group

Serbia nipped Ireland and Wales to top Group D in UEFA World Cup qualifying.

Serbia is back in the World Cup after defeating Georgia 1-0 in its final match of UEFA World Cup qualifying on Monday in Belgrade. The victory gave Serbia 21 points in Group D, enough to finish ahead of second-place Ireland, which edged third-place Wales with a 1-0 victory for a spot in the UEFA playoffs. 

Serbia had the luxury of a relatively weak group in UEFA. While the likes of Serbia, Ireland, Wales and Austria might run rampant in CONCACAF, their inclusion in Group D made for one of the feeblest groups in Europe, with none of the big boys there to push everyone else around. 

Serbia World Cup

From FIFA.com

The Eagles went into Monday’s match knowing a win would be enough to clinch automatic qualification regardless of results elsewhere. A Wales-Ireland draw would also see Serbia go through with a loss, but when James McClean put Ireland ahead of Wales in the 57th minute, Serbia knew it could qualify with a simple draw against lowly Georgia (103 in the FIFA rankings). 

But in the 74th minute, Aleksandar Prijovic made sure Serbia would return to the World Cup for the first time since 2010 when he got onto the end of a cross by Aleksandar Mitrovic. 

 

Serbia World Cup

Aleksandar Mitrovic celebrates Serbia's World Cup qualification. Photo: @NUFC | Twitter

Serbia has now qualified for two World Cups as an independent nation. They also qualified as Serbia and Montenegro in 2006 and as a part of Yugoslavia nine times. Serbia has a habit of winning its group to qualify for the World Cup, beating out France in 2010 and Spain in 2006. 

Fireworks went off at the conclusion of the match as Serbian fans celebrated the World Cup berth. At No. 32 in the FIFA rankings Serbia is unlikely to receive a high seed in the World Cup draw in December, but right now the fans are just happy to be in the field without having to go through the playoff. 

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