Joe Ledley put in a man-of-the-match display in Wales 1-1 draw against Serbia on Saturday night, but the result makes Chris Coleman’s task of getting his country to their first World Cup since 1958 much harder.
For the third qualifier in succession, Wales took the lead through Gareth Bale, however Newcastle United striker Aleksandar Mitrovic’s header five minutes from time beat Wayne Hennessey and grabbed a point for the visitors to the Cardiff City Stadium.
Ledley played 84 minutes of the encounter and was handed the star player award at its conclusion, but with the Republic of Ireland’s win against Austria taking them top of Group D, Serbia and Wales stay second and third - two and four points behind Martin O'Neill's men respectively.
And although the draw means Coleman's men remain unbeaten, the four-point gap between them and the Republic of Ireland is a significant one with only one team able to qualify automatically from the group, with the two set to face each other next March in Dublin.
Post-match, the Palace midfielder said: "You want to take the three points, we fought well today but credit to Serbia. We are still undefeated, let's keep positive.
"Gareth Bale had just hit the post, if that goes in it's over. We are proud of our performance, it's Ireland away next and that's a must-win."
Hennessey played the full game for Wales in what was his 66th cap for his national, but Jonny Williams was an unused sub.