VIENNA — Seeing Wales concede the lead twice away in Austria was frustrating for Gareth Bale on the road to the World Cup.
There was also relief for the Wales captain, knowing the Euro 2016 semifinalists underperformed yet still drew 2-2 on Thursday against a team that went through World Cup qualifying unbeaten.
Marko Arnautovic twice came to the hosts’ rescue in their second World Cup qualifier in Group D where Wales, Serbia, Austria, and Ireland are separated only on goal difference at the top.
“We know we weren’t at our best tonight — it was a difficult game,” Bale told British broadcaster Sky Sports. “But this is what we’ve grown up to do. We grind out results when we need them.
“When we don’t play well, we defend solidly as a team, and we get something from the game. We are a little bit frustrated.”
Wales took the lead with a slick goal in the 22nd minute, with Joe Allen volleying into the net. It was canceled out inside six minutes by Stoke teammate Arnautovic’s downward header.
Austria conceded again in clumsy circumstances just before halftime. Sam Vokes flicked on Bale’s long throw-in, James Chester prodded goalward, and goalkeeper Robert Almer saved. But the rebound hit Kevin Wimmer, who inadvertently diverted the ball into his own net.
Three minutes in the second half, though, Arnautovic equalized again after seizing on Allen’s misdirected pass and darting through a huge hole in the Wales defense.
“We were riding our luck at times,” Wales manager Chris Coleman said. “We were making trouble for ourselves and that’s not like us. Normally we have a bit more authority in possession and we didn’t do that tonight.
“We were indecisive and Austria could smell that on us.”
While Wales, Serbia, Austria and Ireland are on four points, Georgia and Moldova remain on zero points.
IRELAND 1, GEORGIA 0
Captain Seamus Coleman scored his first international goal in the second half after two helpful deflections opened up an unlikely path to goal.
Later in the game in Dublin, Ireland midfielder Robbie Brady was carried from the field on a stretcher while wearing an oxygen mask following a clash of heads with Georgia defender Solomon Kverkvelia. Brady was taken to a hospital from the stadium after being concussed.
MOLDOVA 0, SERBIA 3
Serbia has its first win in Group D thanks to goals from Filip Kostic, Branislav Ivanovic and Dusan Tadic.