Gareth Bale scored an early goal before Robson Kanu came off the bench to win it as Wales beat Slovakia 2 – 1 in the Euro 2016 Group B clash staged in Bordeaux on Saturday 11 June.
Wales had to overcome a few jittery moments at the start of the match with the most scary being an third minute incident as Benjamin Davies lost a ball in the midfield and Marek Hamsik the Slovak dangerman embarked on a surging run with the goal clear in his view.
Hamsik sliced through the Welsh defence and the goalkeeper and seemed certain to score but Davies had charged back after losing the ball and slid in to perform a sensational last-gasp clearance off the line to save the Welsh side.
On the ninth minute James Chester of Wales made a good block and set up an attack that ended with Johnny Williams upended 28 yards out and Gareth Bale stepped up to take the free kick and he curled it well to see the ball just dink at the right moment to beat the Slovak keeper for the opening goal.
For the ensuing few minutes after the goal Slovakia looked shell shocked and struggled to hold on to possession while Wales worked on the advantage, pressing the Slovaks and on the 20th minute Bale started a counter that released Aaron Ramsey who opted for a shot from distance, firing from 20 yards but the Slovak keeper pulled an easy save.
Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel was lucky not to concede a penalty on the 32nd minute when he hacked down Johnny Williams in the box but the referee didn’t seem to have picked it out and he should have headed to the break happy to still be on the field and his team just a goal down.
Slovakia started a bit more brightly in the second half with Robert Mak charging behind Ashley Williams but he rushed his shot and slammed wide to give Wales a reprieve
Slovakia coach Thomas Hubocan made a double change on the 56th minute to better his side’s prospects, bringing on Adam Nemec and Ondrej Duda for Jan Duris and Patrik Hrosovsky.
The changes had immediate impact with Duda scoring the leveler five minutes later after Mak made an excellent run into the box, shrugging off Ramsey and laying the ball in to Duda, who shoved Ashley Williams aside before firing low into the net.
The goal revitalize the Slovaks and they manage to piece together passes to attack as Wales took a back seat, to operate on the counter and it almost paid off as Robson Kanu picked out Ramsey on a counter but the Arsenal man mistimed his leap and in the end headed wide.
Ramsey returned the favour on the 82nd minute after a run that was almost hitting a dead end but he managed to pick out Kanu who scrappily wrongfooted the Slovakia keeper to net the second goal.
Slovakia should have leveled again on the 86th minute but Nemec hit the post with a header after beating Ashley Williams and on the other end, Bale drew to himself two defenders before releasing Ramsey who fluffed his shot.
That came to be Ramsey’s last contribution as he was withdrawn for Ashley Williams but Wales will celebrate their win on their first appearance at the finals in their history as they brace for England next.