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Wales v Slovakia Live Commentary, 11/06/2016

2 - 1
G. Bale (10)
H. Robson-Kanu (81)
O. Duda (61)
Stade Matmut-Atlantique


The referee blows his whistle for the final time and Wales have won their first ever game at a European Championship final! It's a fully-deserved victory as well, as they fought hard to largely keep at bay at Slovakia side that, particularly towards the end of the second half, struggled to find much joy in front of goal. Chris Coleman's men looked incredibly compact and well-organised defensively, whilst both Ramsey and Bale operated extremely well on the break. The win already gives them a great chance on qualifying for the knockout stage and will fill them with plenty of confidence ahead of Thursday's crunch game against England.
90' + 4' It's all Slovakia at the moment as they desperately push forward in search of a goal that would surely result in a point. Ball after ball is being flung into the Wales penalty area, but each is lacking in quality and fails to trouble the defenders before a hopeful lofted pass from Kucka bounces straight into the feet of Ward, who takes his time before picking up the ball. That is surely that...
M. Škrtel
Yellow Card
90' + 2' Skrtel flies in to Davies extremely late as the defender tries to break down the left wing, and it leaves the referee with no choice but to show him a yellow card as Taylor squares up to the Liverpool centre-back.
90' + 1' Chance for Mak! A curling cross from the right wing flies over to the far post, where it's only just dealt with by Chester. The ball ends up flying over to Mak, however, and he's in a great position in front of goal, but he ends up putting far too much power behind his shot and sends it flying comfortably over the top of the crossbar.
90' The fourth official has indicated that there will be four minutes of added time.
89' Once again, Wales sit deep and deal well with a determined Slovakia attack before Bale breaks away on another counter-attack. This time he shoots himself after reaching the edge of the penalty area, but his strike is sent too near to Kozacik and it's easily dealt with by the goalkeeper in the middle of the goal.
J. Richards
A. Ramsey
88' Wales have made their final substitution of the evening, with Richards coming on to replace Ramsey as they look to hold on to their slender lead.
87' A half-hearted Slovakia attacking move breaks down, and Bale immediately breaks away on a quick counter-attack through the middle of the pitch. He sprints towards the penalty area before picking out Ramsey, but the midfielder is slightly hesitant doesn't shoot straight away, which results in him having to settle for a corner that fails to trouble the Slovakia defence.
86' Nemec hits the post! Slovakia move the ball around brilliantly on the edge of the Wales penalty area before Svento fires in a wonderful cross from the left. It finds Nemec in front of goal and he's easily able to beat his marker before sending a bullet header towards goal, but it ends up ricocheting off the woodwork after beating Ward.
84' So close from Ramsey! Bale breaks down the right before whipping an excellent cross into the middle of the Slovakia penalty area with the outside of his foot. It flies over the head of Skrtel and almost finds the Arsenal midfielder in front of goal, but, despite his best efforts, the ball ends up missing his outstretched foot by the narrowest of margins.
M. Stoch
V. Weiss
83' Slovakia have made a late alteration, with Weiss making way for Stoch.
J. Kucka
Yellow Card
83' Wales immediately push forward after winning the ball back soon after the restart. Bale tries to weave his way through the Slovakia half of the pitch but is brought down to the ground by Kucka, who becomes the latest player to receive a yellow card.
A. Ramsey
81' That was a great little poked pass from Ramsey, but Skrtel really should have done better to deal with the danger after the midfielder was left in too much space on the edge of the box.
H. Robson-Kanu
81' GOAL! Robson-Kanu has put Wales back in front! Ramsey picks up the ball in a pocket of space just outside of the Slovakia penalty area before charging towards Skrtel. The centre-back loses his footing and falls to the ground just as the Arsenal midfielder tees up Robson-Kanu, who immediately clips a lovely low shot past the outstretched limbs of Kozacik and into the back of the net. Will that prove to be the winner?
V. Weiss
Yellow Card
80' Weiss becomes the latest player to earn himself a yellow card for a poor challenge over on the left wing. Slovakia now find themselves on the back foot and are having to deal with a lot of pressure from Wales.
79' Wales come back once again and win themselves another free-kick thanks to good hold-up play by Robson-Kanu, who has done well since coming on to the pitch. Despite the set-piece being 35 yards away from goal, Bale steps up and tries to beat Kozacik with a thumping strike, but it ends up bouncing straight into the hands of the goalkeeper in the middle of the goal.
R. Mak
Yellow Card
78' A poor touch from Mak sends the ball bouncing into the feet of Allen, who is then clattered into by the winger, resulting in a free-kick for Wales that fails to result in a chance on goal due to good goalkeeping from Kozacik.
76' After a nervy period in which they were forced to sit deep inside their own half of the pitch, Wales are starting to find more joy inside the Slovakia half of the pitch as they put their opponents under plenty of pressure once again. This time Robson-Kanu attempts to break down the left wing on a marauding run, but Skrtel is there to dispossess the substitute before thumping the ball out of play for a throw-in.
74' Golden opportunity for Ramsey! Robson-Kanu makes an immediate impression as he chases down a loose ball near to the byline on the right flank. He spins quickly after meeting it before floating a lovely cross towards the near post, where it finds the Arsenal midfielder, but his jump is slightly mistimed and results in his headed effort clearing the crossbar. He really should have done better with that!
72' After sitting deep for the last 10 minutes, Wales are finally able to break out of their own half of the pitch thanks to a purposeful run forward from Bale. The Real Madrid winger darts down the right flank but finds himself severely outnumbered, which allows Hamsik to dispossess him before he's able to pick out a teammate with a pass.
H. Robson-Kanu
J. Williams
71' And now Robson-Kanu has replaced Jonny Williams, who has had a really impressive game.
J. Ledley
D. Edwards
69' Wales have made their first change of the game, with Edwards making for Ledley, who comes on to try and add a bit more defensive stability in the midfield.
68' Slovakia come back again, with Weiss playing an important role in the attacking move down the left channel. He cuts inside and picks out a good pass over to Mak, who takes a quick touch before firing a rocket of a shot from 30 yards out that ends up flying not too far over the top of the crossbar.
67' Pekarik breaks down the right flank before sending a looping cross into the heart of the Wales penalty area. It flies high into the air before falling towards Nemec, but Ward is just about able to get a fist on the ball to stop it from finding the head of the striker. Slovakia are all over Wales and are making life incredibly difficult for them.
65' The game has completely changed since Slovakia scored the equaliser, and they're now firmly on the front foot as they attempt to find that all-important second goal. Weiss and Mak have performed far better than they did in the first half, and their pace down the flanks is starting to cause plenty of problems for the Wales defence.
63' Slovakia immediately win back the ball from the restart before breaking forward on another excellent attack, this time through Weiss. The winger sprints towards the edge of the penalty area before being brought down from behind by Edwards, leaving the referee with no choice but to award him a free-kick in a very dangerous position. The number seven steps up and unleashes a curling shot from the resulting set-piece, but there's too much power behind the strike and it comfortably clears the top of the crossbar.
R. Mak
61' That was an excellent run by Mak, who showed great belief to get so far down the pitch, but Ramsey really should have done better to deal with the winger, as he let him fly past him far too easily.
O. Duda
61' GOAL! What an impact Duda has made! Mak flies down the right wing on a brilliant run as he easily skips past two Wales players. He then heads towards the penalty area before picking out the substitute on the edge of the penalty area, and he quickly fires a great low shot that beats Ward before nestling into the bottom right-hand corner of the net. Game on!
O. Duda
P. Hrošovský
60' Meanwhile, Duda has come on to take the place of Hrosovsky for the final 30 minutes.
A. Nemec
M. Ďuriš
60' Slovakia have decided to make their first substitution of the game, with Duris, who has had a really difficult game, making way for Nemec.
58' Bale goes close! A bouncing throw-in finds Allen near to the byline, and the midfielder immediately lifts a lovely cross over towards the back post. Bale rises high and beats his marker with his ease before sending a great header towards the bottom left-hand corner of the net, but Kozacik is there to parry the effort away from goal with an acrobatic diving save.
57' Slovakia move the ball around beautifully deep inside the Wales half of the pitch, with Hamsik and Weiss linking up well just outside of the box. The latter then tries to penetrate the penalty area after embarking on a marauding run, but Davies is there to stop him from doing so with a well-timed tackle at the vital moment.
56' What a chance for Mak! Weiss, who has arguably been Slovakia's best player today, picks up the ball on the halfway line and immediately whips a lovely pass into the feet of the winger. He controls the ball well and skips past Taylor before trying to beat Ward from the edge of the penalty area, but there's slightly too much power behind the shot and it ends up clearing the top of the crossbar by three or four yards.
54' Jonny Williams shows great skill to dart down the left wing before cutting inside and trying to tee up a teammate. He's unable to do so after being clattered into by Kucka, however, but, despite the protestations from the Wales fans, the referee doesn't book the Milan midfielder and instead just gives him a stern talking to.
52' After spending the opening seven minutes of the second half firmly on the back foot, Slovakia are finally able to push forward on a good attack down the left. Pekarik does well to get forward into a good position before trying to find Duris, but the striker is unable to meet the ball deep inside the Wales half of the pitch due to good defending by Williams, who comes sliding in to deal with the danger.
50' A bouncing throw-in from Gunter looks like one that should be easily dealt with by Durica, but he ends up panicking and heads it out of play for a needless corner. Ramsey steps up and loops a brilliant cross into the heart of the penalty area, but Kozacik does well to burst through a group of red shirts before confidently snatching the ball out of the air.
48' Wales pick up where they left off at the end of the first half by starting the second on the front foot. Jonny Williams and Ramsey link up well deep down the right flank before the latter battles with Durica just inside the penalty area. It looks as if he's beaten the striker and he then heads towards the near post, but the referee quickly blows his whistle and awards a free-kick to Slovakia, much to the annoyance of the Arsenal midfielder, who was just about to shoot.
46' And we're underway once again!
The two teams are making their way back out onto the pitch ahead of the start of the second half. Neither side have made any substitutions during the half-time break.
It's been an excellent first half for Wales, who have played brilliantly and head into the break with a well-deserved one-goal lead. Slovakia have really struggled to find much joy when pushing forward due to the compact nature of their opponents' defence, who look well drilled in their 3-5-2 formation. At the other end, Gunter and Taylor have been constant figures inside the Slovakia half of the pitch, with their impressive runs down the flanks causing plenty of problems for Svento and Pekarik.
45' + 1' Mak is dispossessed by Davies on the halfway line, allowing the defender to fly forward into the space left available by the midfielder. He charges towards the Slovakia penalty area before teeing up Bale, who quickly spins and unleashes a low, curling shot that Kozacik does well to hold on to in the middle of the goal.
45' The fourth official has indicated that there will be just one minute of added time.
44' Skrtel goes close! Slovakia come back again quickly, with Svento doing well to win his side a corner on the left wing. Weiss steps up and curls a dangerous cross towards the edge of the six-yard box, but a combination of Bale and Ward are just about able to deal with the initial danger. A brilliant cross is immediately sent back into the penalty area, however, but it ends up flying just a yard or so over the head of Skrtel, who was in an excellent position in front of goal.
43' Weiss and Duris link up well as they cause the Wales defence plenty of problems with their skill and trickery. The winger weaves his way past several players and plays a quick one-two with Svento before trying to send a low pass across the face of goal, but it's sent slightly too near to Ward and it's easily cut out by the goalkeeper.
42' Strong defending again from Wales! This time it's Hamsik who muscles his way towards the edge of the box before finding Duris, but the striker's low shot is well blocked by Taylor. The ball ends up finding its way back to the Napoli midfielder, however, but his attempt on goal also fails to test Ward thanks to good awareness by Ashley Williams.
41' It just doesn't seem to be working for Slovakia inside the Wales half of the pitch. Weiss, who has struggled to find much joy in front of goal, breaks towards the penalty area before being forced to spin and find Kucka. The midfielder then quickly attempts to set up Duris with a low through-ball into the heart of the box, but it completely misses the striker and ends up rolling straight into the grateful hands of Ward.
39' Wales sit back slightly and invite Slovakia to push forward before winning back possession near to the halfway line. They move the ball forward quickly and send it over to the right wing, where Ramsey is waiting in space, but the midfielder's attempted cross over to the back post is poor and ends up sailing harmlessly out of play for a goal-kick.
37' A poor pass from Davies fails to find Taylor and instead rolls straight into the hands of Mak. The winger, who is sitting incredibly deep inside of his own half of the pitch, then tries to break forward on a quick counter-attack down the right flank, but his first touch is poor and Davies is able to dispossess him with a well-timed sliding tackle.
35' Once again, Gunter drifts inside from the right wing and heads into the penalty area before chipping a dangerous cross over towards the far post, where it finds Taylor. The wing-back charges towards goal and meets the ball well before trying to head it back to a teammate, but Hrosovsky is there to stop him from doing so with a vital interception.
33' Jonny Williams goes down inside the penalty area, but nothing is given! The Crystal Palace man flies into the right-hand side of the Slovakia penalty area before tangling with Skrtel, who seems to catch the forward in the face with a stray elbow. The Welshman goes to the ground and looks certain to win his side a penalty, but despite one of the officials standing only a few yards in front of the incident, nothing is given. The Wales fans aren't at all happy with that decision!
P. Hrošovský
Yellow Card
31' Jonny Williams attempts to break away on a quick counter-attack through the middle of the pitch, but his run is brought to a premature end by Hrosovsky, who flies into the forward and earns himself the first yellow card of the game.
30' Slovakia are starting to find a bit more joy in front of goal, and it's largely thanks to Kucka and Hamsik, both of whom have been their side's best players thus far. The Milan midfielder charges towards the edge of the penalty area and tees up the Napoli man, but before he's able to turn and shoot, he's dispossessed by a great tackle from Chester. The ball then rolls out to Hrosovsky, but his first-time strike bounces off a red shirt and away from danger.
28' Slovakia are seeing a lot of the ball at the moment but are finding it very hard to find a way through the sea of red shirts camped in front of them. Wales are doing incredibly well to put their opponents under plenty of pressure, and it's stopping Jan Kozak's men from being able to find any sort of rhythm or penetration with their passing.
26' Tackles are flying in all over the place at the moment, and Hamsik seems to be in serious pain after clashing with Davies in the middle of the pitch. The referee lets play resume for a few moments before allowing the Napoli midfielder to be seen to, but it looks as if he's going to be able to continue, despite the challenge being a heavy one.
24' Gunter battles with Svento deep down the right wing before doing well to win his side a throw-in. It's sent to Ramsey, who holds up the ball on the byline before sending it back to Gunter, but the wing-back's curling cross towards Bale ends up sailing out of play for it's able to find the Real Madrid winger inside the Slovakia penalty area.
22' Hamsik weaves his way towards the Wales penalty area before being clipped from behind by Allen, resulting in a free-kick for Slovakia in a position 35 yards away from goal. Despite it being possibly too far away, Kucka steps up and fires a dipping shot from the set-piece, but it's overhit and fails to trouble Ward before flying out for a goal-kick.
20' Weiss immediately tries to do the same as Ramsey at the other end of the pitch after drifting inside to find some space, but there's far too much power behind his effort on goal and it ends up clearing the top of the crossbar by several yards.
19' Wales move the ball around well in the middle of the pitch, with Jonny Williams, Bale and Ramsey all showing good understanding midway inside the Slovakia half. The latter eventually decides to unleash a long-range shot at Kozacik, who hasn't looked entirely comfortable thus far, but his low, 25-yard strike is easily collected by the goalkeeper.
18' After spending the past few minutes on the back foot, Wales attempt to break down the right flank on a quick counter-attack. A lofted pass is flung forward in search of Gunter, who has made a great start tot he game, but it's slightly overhit and the wing-back is unable to control the ball, which ends up bouncing out for a goal-kick.
17' Slovakia have regained their composure over the past few days, and they're now moving the ball around well inside the Wales half of the pitch. They patiently try to work their way towards the penalty area before Skrtel attempts to set up Mak down the right wing, but the defender's pass is poor and is easily cut out by Davies.
15' Allen pushes into the Slovakia half of the pitch before sending a beautiful lofted pass over to the right wing, where it finds Gunter just outside of the box. The wing-back controls the ball well before teeing up Bale, but just as it looks as if the Real Madrid winger is going to shoot, he's dispossessed from behind by a vital interception from Hamsik, who then tries to initiate a quick counter-attack.
13' A poor pass from Allen can only find Kucka, but the Milan midfielder's first touch is poor and sends it straight back to the Liverpool man. However, Hamsik is there to win possession back for Slovakia before trying to beat Ashley Williams on the edge of the Wales box, but the captain comes out on top before shepherding the ball out for a goal-kick.
12' Wales immediately win the ball back from the restart and come back at Slovakia once again, with Jonny Williams finding far too much space in the middle of the pitch. He darts towards the edge of the penalty area before trying to tee up Taylor over on the left, but Kucka is just about able to jump in front of the pass to stop it from finding the wing-back, who was in a great position.
G. Bale
10' GOAL! What a strike by Bale! Wales work the ball around nicely once again, this time down the right wing. Gunter then cuts the ball inside to Jonny Williams, who is quickly clattered into and wins his side a free-kick in a great position 30 yards away from the Slovakia goal. Bale takes his time eyeing up the target before thumping an excellent shot over the wall and just an inch or so past the outstretched fingertips of Kozacik. Fantastic start by Wales!
8' Ramsey steps up and floats a dangerous cross into the heart of the Slovakia penalty area, where it's just about dealt with by Kozacik. The goalkeeper's punched clearance isn't the greatest, however, and is sent straight to Allen, but the midfielder's quick shot is slightly rushed and fails to find its way through the clump of blue shirts directly in front of him.
7' Wales patiently try to make their way down the left wing, with Davies and Taylor linking up well inside the Slovakia half of the pitch. Their opponents initially do well to keep them at bay before earning themselves a free-kick, but Wales quickly win the ball back before being awarded a free-kick in an advantageous position.
5' Slovakia come back once again, with Hamsik playing an important role in the move as he sprints forward. He finds himself in a pocket of space 25 yards away from goal and decides to try and test Ward with a long-range shot, but this time Ashley Williams is there to throw his body in front of the midfielder's effort.
3' What a block by Davies! Hamsik picks up the ball deep inside the Wales half of the pitch and immediately embarks on a weaving run towards the box. He twists and turns his way through a sea of red shirts before beating Ward with a low shot from just inside the penalty area, but Davies is there to stop the strike from finding the back of the net with an excellent sliding interception in front of goal.
2' After a confident start to the game from Wales, Ashley Williams bundles Duris to the ground and gives away a free-kick to Slovakia. It's taken short and worked over to Pekarik, who darts towards the edge of the penalty area before trying to tee up the lone striker, but Chester does well to read the pass before cutting out the danger at the vital moment.
1' And we're off! Slovakia get us underway, attacking from right to left.
The two sides are making their way out onto the pitch, with just a few minutes to go until kick-off. Both sets of fans are in fine voice, and the atmosphere inside the stadium is electric!
Meanwhile, Slovakia boss Jan Kozak has named an unchanged side to the one that started the goalless draw against Northern Ireland seven days ago, with Marek Hamsik, their top goalscorer in qualifying, once again operating just behind sole striker Michal Duris.
Chris Coleman has decided to make four changes to the Wales side that started the 3-0 defeat away to Sweden in their final warm-up game, with the most notable inclusion being Liverpool's third-choice goalkeeper Danny Ward, who takes the place of the injured Wayne Hennessey. Meanwhile, David Edwards, Joe Allen and Gareth Bale also come into the starting line-up to replace Andy King, David Vaughan and Sam Vokes, respectively.
Slovakia substitutes: Mucha, Gyomber, Gregus, Duda, Sestak, Stoch, Nemec, Skriniar, Hubocan, Salata, Pecovsky.
Slovakia XI (4-2-3-1): Kozacik; Pekarik, Skrtel, Durica, Svento; Kucka, Hrosovsky; Mak, Hamsik, Weiss; Duris.
Wales substitutes: Hennessey, King, Robson-Kanu, O. Williams, G. Williams, Richards, Ledley, Cotterill, Vokes, Collins, Vaughan, Church.
Wales XI (3-5-2): Ward; Chester, A. Williams, Davies; Gunter, Edwards, Allen, Ramsey, Taylor; J. Williams, Bale.
There’s just over 15 minutes left to go until kick-off, so let’s have a look at how the two teams will be lining up this afternoon…
It was a similarly impressive qualifying campaign for Slovakia, who won seven of their 10 games to finish three points clear of Ukraine in second place, something that very few thought possible on the eve of their first qualifier back in September 2014. They have continued that good form in friendlies, winning four of their last seven games to extend an unbeaten run that now stretches back to last October. In that time, Switzerland, Iceland and, most notably, Germany have all been beaten by the Falcons, and they will be confident about their chances of continuing that form in France as they look to reach the knockout stage.
Since then, things have certainly improved for a Wales side that are featuring in the finals of a major tournament for the first time since 1958 thanks to an impressive qualifying campaign. Over 10 games, Chris Coleman’s men only lost once and conceded just four goals, a solid record that helped them to a second-place finish. They have struggled in their friendly games since then, however, with a draw against Northern Ireland in March being the only positive result over the past four clashes.
Today’s clash is notable for two reasons, as not only is it the first time in 20 years that two European Championship finalist debutants have met in an opening game, but it also sees Gareth Bale take on the side against whom he became Wales’ youngest ever scorer. That momentous occasion occurred way back in October 2006, when a 17-year-old Bale scored the only goal in what was a disappointing 5-1 defeat for the Dragons at the Millennium Stadium.
Good afternoon and welcome to our live text commentary of today’s Euro 2016 group stage game between Wales and Slovakia at the Stade Matmut Atlantique.