Hal Robson-Kanu was the difference maker for Wales as they collected all three points in their opening match against Slovakia.
Gareth Bale opened the scoring with a tremendous free-kick just 10 minutes into proceedings. There is an argument that Slovakian goalkeeper Matus Kozacik could’ve done better. The slight step to his left opened up the gap for Bale to fire in, and alleviate some of the pressure on the Welsh dragon’s shoulders.
There was another moment of contention just minutes later, as Martin Skrtel caught Johnnie Williams with a flailing elbow, something that Marouane Fellaini would be proud of. The physicality of Skrtel is something that Liverpool fans have enjoyed throughout his eight years with the club. But this was a disgrace, something that should not be allowed at the European championships, an incident that UEFA will surely look into as the tournament progresses.
After Wales went into half-time holding all the cards, there was some serious thinking for Jan Kozak to do. Robert Mak was shifted into a more attacking position and Ondrej Duda was introduced with half an hour remaining. The Legia Warsaw mans first impression was the draw Slovakia level, ghosting past Ashley Williams and wrong-footing stand in goalkeeper Danny Ward.
The Slovaks had had a similar chance when the score line still read 0-0. Marek Hamsik rolled the Wales defence on this occasion, and despite Ward being beaten, Ben Davies was there to block on the line.
The tide turned on that goal. Slovakia taking the game by the scruff of its neck and producing the majority of the attacking play. Mirislav Stoch, who once had a short stint at Bolton Wanderers, tested Danny Ward. But Slovakia couldn’t break the Wales defence down.
With ten minutes left on the referee’s watch, Hal Robson-Kanu got the vital touch. The Reading man steered in from the penalty spot to send the Wales end into ecstasy. Despite using his shin to steer the ball into the net, every goal counts, and this could be a crucial moment in Wales’ Euros campaign.
There would still be time for Slovakia substitute Adam Nemec to head against the post. But following a nail-biting four minutes of added time, Wales could celebrate their first three points of the 2016 European Championships.
Final Score – Wales 2-1 Slovakia Man of the Match – Gareth Bale