Substitute Hal-Robson Kanu was the match winner as Wales beat Slovakia in their first European Championship game in its 56-year history. Gareth Bale was also on the scoresheet as Wales look to be on course to make it out of the group.
The game got off to a lively start, with Marek Hamšík taking the ball past three players, only to be denied by a Ben Davies block on the line in the third minute. It should’ve been a goal, but due to amazing defending, the score stayed 0-0.
In the 10th minute, Patrik Hrošovský gave away a free kick 25 yards out. Step up Gareth Bale, who put the ball comfortably to the keepers right to make it 1-0 to Wales. It was a wonderfully taken free-kick, however, it was very poor keeping by Matúš Kozáčik. The TFF Twitter got very excited about the goal:
— TheFootballForecast (@OfficialTFF) June 11, 2016
After the goal, Wales seemed very comfortable on the ball, with Slovakia’s first shot of the game coming from Vladimír Weiss from long range, which was high and wide.
Three minutes later, Slovakia had a free-kick from around 35 yards. Taken by Juraj Kucka, the free-kick was high and wide. Slovakia couldn’t make any clear cut chances since the crucial effort in the opening minutes of the game.
Slovakian tempers flared in the 31st, with Hrošovský receiving a yellow card after his third foul of the game. Only a minute later, Wales had a penalty appeal turned down when Martin Škrtel elbowed Jonathan Williams in the face causing him to fall to the ground. The official behind the goal gave a goal kick when it should’ve have been a penalty and an early bath for the Slovakian defender.
The last chance of the half fell to Škrtel when a lovely ball played in from the right wing just went over his head and skimmed past the post. If he had connected with the ball, it could’ve easily been 1-1.
The second half started slowly, the first major chance coming the 57th minute when Ramsey played a lovely ball in, only for Bale’s header to be well saved by a diving Kozáčik.
Just four minutes later, substitute Ondrej Duda tucked the ball into the bottom left after a wonderful run by Róbert Mak, 1-1.
Weiss had the chance to score from a free-kick in close proximity, only for it to be struck high and wide in the 63rd minute. Ten minutes later, up the other end, substitute Hal Robson-Kanu played a wonderful ball in, but Ramsey header over with the free header.
In the 81st minute, a wonderful run by Ramsey set up substitute Hal Robson-Kanu who gratefully tucked the ball into the bottom left-corner, 2-1 Wales.
— TheFootballForecast (@OfficialTFF) June 11, 2016
Adam Nemec must have thought he’d equalised, but his header crashed against the post in the 86th minute, although most of the Welsh fans would’ve been breathing a sigh of relief.
The final chance came in the 90th minute, but Róbert Mak fired high and wide with a very poor volley.
Full Time : Wales 2 – 1 Slovakia
Man of the Match: Ben Davies
It was a toss up between Ben Davies and Joe Allen, but I’ve decided to give it to Davies. He made the crucial block during the first few minutes and looked composed throughout. He played well going forward and wasn’t at fault when defending at the back. Even though he’s playing out of position at centre back, he was Wales’ best defender of the day.
A look to the future: Wales’ next game is against England in a game where you’d expect the winner to be the team to top the group. Slovakia are up against it when they play Russia, knowing they need a win in order to have any chance of qualifying for the round of 16.
21. Ward (6) – Didn’t have much to do during the game.
2. Gunter (6)
5. Chester (6)
6. A.Williams (7) – A captain’s performance in defence.
4. Davies (8) – MOTM
3. Taylor (7)
7. Allen (8) – Bossed the midfield and looked like Wales’ talisman throughout.
14. Edwards (6)
10. Ramsey (6) – Got an assist for the winner, but wasn’t up to his normal standards.
20. J.Williams (6)
11. Bale (7) – Scored a wonderful free-kick, looked like the biggest threat on the pitch.
16. Ledley (5) – Didn’t get into the game at all.
9. Robson-Kanu (7) – Took his only chance of the game, set up quite a few others, a game-changing performance from the substitute.
15. Richards (N/A)
23. Kozáčik (5) – Made a few good saves, but nothing can make up for the free-kick mistake.
2. Pekarík (6)
3. Škrtel (5) – Booked, shouldn’t have been on the pitch in the second half.
4. Ďurica (6)
18. Švento (6)
19. Kucka (5) – Booked
13. Hrošovský (5) – Gave away the free-kick for the goal, picked himself up a booking.
17. Hamšík (6) – Didn’t get the impact he hoped for, should’ve scored early on.
20. Mak (6) – Booked, got the assist for the goal, couldn’t get his shots on target, though.
7. Weiss (5) – Booked, poor on free-kicks, couldn’t turn space into chances.
21. Ďuriš (5) – Invisible throughout the game.
11. Nemec (6) – Unlucky not to score late on.
8. Duda (7) – Scored the equaliser, made the most of his short time on the pitch.
10. Stoch (N/A)
The Football Forecast will be covering all of the games through the Euros. To keep up to date, follow us on Twitter @OfficialTFF and follow me personally, @kieranmoss97.