Robson-Kanu’s late strike gave Wales their first win after Duda cancelled Bale’s opener.
All eyes bared down on the Stade Matmut Atlantique stadium as football spectators and fans waited anxiously to see Wales and Slovakia in their first international competition. Could Wales prove that were not a one-man team? Or would it be Slovakia to assert that their 3-1 friendly win over the current World Champions, Germany, was no fluke and they could really be the dark horses of the competition?
Wales started with a 3-5-2 formation playing Bale upfront with Jordan Williams. Slovakia started off with a 4-3-2-1 formation.
The match started frantically with Slovakia on the front foot for the most part. In the third minute, Napoli midfielder, Marek Hamsik almost rounded off a darting solo run with a goal, but Ben Davies came to the rescue with a goal-line clearance.
The world’s most expensive player, Gareth Bale, stepped up when his team needed him most and just might have proved that Wales was a one-man team after curling a superb free-kick into the bottom left of the post in the tenth minute. Although, the Slovakian goalkeeper’s positioning could be called to question.
Martin Skrtel escaped a possible red card after elbowing Jordan Williams in the 18-yard box just before the glaring view of the fifth official- the goal line official. The first half was mostly drab after the early minutes of tension with Slovakia settling into rhythm and retaining most of the possession but posed no real threat to Welsh defence.
Wales’ decision to play 3-5-2 might be their undoing both offensively and defensively due to their lack of aerial prowess in subsequent matches. They need to penetrate more down the middle if they are to stand a chance in this competition. Slovakia however just need to get a taller player like Nemec upfront and whip in more crosses if they’re wing play is to work for them and also caution Martin Skrtel’s rash challenges.
The second half started just like the first ended, no real threat or excitement .Duda who was barely on the pitch for up to two minutes as he replaced Hrosovosky clawed the Slovakians back into the game with a 61st minute equalizer after impressive wing play from Robert Mak. After the equalizer, the Slovakians threatened a bit more and Welsh defence seemed to be caving under pressure. The referee once again missed a blatant obstruction by Martin Skrtel in the 18-yrad box yet again. This was before Aaron Ramsey spurned a headed opportunity after substitute Hal Robson-Kanu whipped in a beautiful cross.
The Welsh however finally exploited the middle and this led to a run by Aaron Ramsey before the ball gracefully fell to Hal Robson-Kanu who duly converted to put Wales back in front. It wasn’t yet over as substitute Nemec headed onto the bar for the Slovakians, as they finally outpowered the Welsh in the aerial battle. Aaron Ramsey once again spurned another opportunity as Gareth Bale set him up during a Welsh counter attack. Wales went away with the vital 3 points as the match ended 2-1.