Hal Robson-Kanu heroics get Wales off to dream start – Wales v Slovakia EURO 2016

Group B

Wales 2-1 Slovakia

Gareth Bale opened his Euro 2016 account with an early free kick as he helped Wales beat Slovakia 2-1 in an entertaining Group B encounter at the Stade de Bordeaux.

Slovakia had a perfect opportunity to take the lead inside three minutes when Marek Hamsik danced through the defence but, while the Napoli star’s shot beat stand-in goalkeeper Danny Ward, left-back Ben Davies was able to make a crucial block on the line. Wales soon came to life. They threatened an opener shortly afterwards, when Slovakia keeper Matus Kozacik’s attempted clearance fell to Joe Allen, but the Liverpool midfielder could not get a shot away.

With 10 minutes played, Bale put them ahead. After Patrik Hrosovsky fouled Jonny Williams nearly 30 yards from goal, the Real Madrid star fired home a swerving free kick, with Kozacik caught out badly misjudging its direction.

Bale celebrates with the Welsh bench.
Bale celebrates with the Welsh bench.

Slovakia were fortunate to avoid conceding a penalty with just over half an hour played when Martin Skrtel threw his arm at Jonny Williams in the area, but the referee waved away the claim. Wales went down the tunnel one up at half-time. Slovakia had the first chance of the second half when Robert Mak unleashed a shot on the bounce, but he did not trouble Ward.

Bale then saw a header saved well by Kozacik. Slovakia drew level with 61 minutes gone when Mak outpaced Aaron Ramsey down the right and supplied substitute Ondrej Duda, whose first touch leveled the sides.

Duda fires home Slovakia's equalizer.
Duda fires home Slovakia’s equalizer.

Wales looked vulnerable, prompting Chris Coleman to bring on Joe Ledley and Hal Robson-Kanu.

Robson-Kanu came close to an instant impact when his cross found Ramsey unmarked in the centre only for the Arsenal midfielder to head high over the bar, but the duo combined to restore Wales’ advantage in the 81st minute. Ramsey, receiving a pass from Ledley, beat Skrtel as he bore down on goal and, when the ball ran through to Robson-Kanu, the forward scuffed a shot past Kozacik into the bottom corner.

Substitute Kanu celebrates his vital goal.
Substitute Kanu celebrates his vital goal.

Wales ultimately clung on for the three points and sit at the top of Group B tonight.

Man of the Match –  Joe Allen (Wales)

Substitutions:

Wales

  • David Edwards replaced by Joe Ledley 69 mins
  • Jonathan Williams replaced by Hal Robson-Kanu 71 mins
  • Aaron Ramsey replaced by Jazz Richards 88 mins

Slovakia

  • Michal Duris replaced by Adam Nemec 59 mins
  • Patrik Hrosovsky replaced by Ondrej Duda 60 mins
  • Vladimir Weiss replaced by Miroslav Stoch 83 mins

Yellow cards:

Wales – None

Slovakia – Patrik Hrosovsky, Robert Mak,  Vladimir Weiss,  Juraj Kucka, Martin Skrtel.

 

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