A fine header from Kieffer Moore – created following fine work by the excellent Daniel James – gave Wales a valuable lead in Trnava. And though Juraj Kucka’s brilliant volley pegged them back, they will fancy themselves to nab the second qualifying spot, behind Croatia – who they play next.
Wales started the game well, but it was Slovakia who had the better chances in the opening period, Ethan Ampadu saving a certain goal with a courageous block before, on 25 minutes, they took the lead, Moore vindicating Ryan Giggs’ decision to start him ahead of Sam Vokes.
And Wales might have extended their lead when Norbert Gyomber scythed through Joe Williams in the box, but somehow the ref saw nothing amiss.
Either side of half-time, Slovakia upped the pressure, and on 53 mimes levelled the match through Kucka, and for a period they looked likely to find a winner. But Wales hung in there and saw out the final 20 minutes without too many alarms; Gomber was sent-off on 88 minutes, but Wales couldn’t quite take advantage, James slicing wide from a promising position.
Wales now meet Croatia on Sunday, a match they’ll see as something of a free hit; they’ll reckon that wins away to Azerbaijan and at home to Hungary, in their final two games, will be enough to see them through.
Wales' forward Kiefer Moore celebrates scoring the opening goal during the UEFA Euro 2020 Group E qualification football match Slovakia v Wales in Trnava, Slovakia on October 10
Image credit: Getty Images
What can Wales do in midfield? Without the injured David Brooks and Aaron Ramsey, Wales are short of quality in midfield, the precise area in which Croatia, their next opponents, excel. No doubt they will defend deep and look to counter - they'll scarcely have a choice in the matter - but Ryan Giggs must formulate a plan because otherwise the pressure will be too much.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Kieffer Moore (Wales) Led the line superbly, putting himself about, holding the ball up, and giving Norbert Gyomber a horrible night, as well as scoring a very presentable header.
Slovakia: Dubravka 6, Pekaric 6, Gyomber 3, Skriniar 6, Hancko 6, Kucka 7, Lobotka 6, Hamsik 7, Rusnak 7, Bozenik 6, Mak 6. Subs: Safranko 6, Haraslin 6.
Wales: Hennessey 6, Roberts 6, Rodon 6, Lockyer 6, Davies 6, Allen 6, Ampadu 6, Bale 6, Williams 6, James 7, Moore 7. Subs: Morrell 6, Wilson 6.
Kieffer Moore's goal was his first for Wales, in his second international and first competitive game, and his first this season, in his ninth game.
10’ - More possession for Wales, who are moving it nicely. But then Lockyer gives it away and Hamsik crosses immediately, Bozenik flicking gloriously into the path of Mak. He takes a touch to work the angle, steadies himself to put his side ahead ... and out of nowhere, Ampadu slides in to block! That is brilliant defending, and has saved a certain goal!
25’ - GOAL! Slovakia 0-1 Wales (Moore) Well done Ryan Giggs! First, Bale heads against the bar, twisting his whole body to generate power. And Wales maintain pressure, Allen spreading beautifully towards James, who jumps against Pekarik, flicks behind them both, and gets to the loose ball first, moving onto his right foot then his left to stand up a cross with off his weaker side that picks out Moore. He arrives onto it beautifully, and plants a header past Dubravka.
37’ - Williams goes outside Lobotka so Gyomber comes across to scythe through him! It's the most obvious penalty you've ever seen! But the ref says no! I have not a scooby what's happened there; that is outrageous officiating.
53’ - WHAT A GOAL! Slovakia 1-1 Wales (Kucka) Kusnak, who's been dangerous all night, holds up, waiting for Pekarik, before teeing him up to cross; Roberts might head behind but on the dive, he sends it up and out of the box, only for Kucka to allow the ball across his body before control-cracking a low volley past Hennessey! It wasn't the greatest clearance, but that was such a difficult finish!
63’ - Mak comes in off the left again - his build reminds me of Xherdan Shaqiri and he squares to Rusnak, whose first touch inadvertently flicks the ball up for his second, a low drive which has Hennessey plunging to his right to save. Wales are rocking.
88’ - RED CARD! Another high ball into Moore and Gyomber flies over to take him out because what else is to do? He receives a well-earned second yellow, and off he chunters. ÿÿá™;