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Published: 18:01 | 11/6/16

Bale shines as Wales beat Slovakia


Wales got their first major tournament for 58 years off to a dream start, with a 2-1 Euro 2016 Group B victory over Slovakia in Bordeaux.

Gareth Bale gave Wales an early lead, before Slovakia substitute Ondrej Duda equalised on 61 minutes, but Welsh substitute Hal Robson-Kanu scrambled home an 80th minute winner to send the 25,000 Wales supporters in the Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux delirious.

Wales were fortunate not to be a goal down after three minutes following a weaving run from the left from Marek Hamsik, but Ben Davies did brilliantly to scamper back behind goalkeeper Danny Ward to clear the Napoli forward's effort off the line.

And Wales supporters' relief turned to joy on ten minutes when Bale swerved a trademark free-kick from 30 yards over the wall and past a wrong-footed Matus Kozacik in the Slovakia goal.

It was the Real Madrid star's 17th goal in his last 26 appearances for Wales, after just three goals in his first 30.

Chris Coleman's side arguably should have been awarded a penalty on 32 minutes, when Slovakia captain Martin Skrtel bundled down Jonny Williams in the box, only for the referee and the touchline official to wave play on.

But Slovakia recovered their pose in the second half, and levelled on the hour mark from Duda's first touch of the game to become the first goalscorer against Wales in a major tournament since a 17-year-old Pele in the 1958 World Cup in Sweden.

Robert Mak bypassed the flat-footed Aaron Ramsey and David Edwards down the right and cut the ball back for Duda to dummy, before rolling a shot beyond Williams and Chester and into the net.

Ramsey then spurned a great chance at the near post on 72 minutes, heading substitute Hal Robson-Kanu's cross from the right over the bar from close range.

But Robson-Kanu, full of running and heart since his introduction on 70 minutes, scuffed home the winner ten minutes from time through the legs of Durica after receiving the ball from an off-balance Ramsey in the No 10 position.

But Slovakia came within a post width of equalising for a second time on 85 minutes, with substitute Adam Nemec seeing his header at the near post thud against the woodwork with Ward well beaten.

Wales next meet England in Lens on Thursday, while Slovakia meet Russia the previous day in Lille.


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