Winning start to qualifiers
International
24 March 2019

Winning start to qualifiers

An early Dan James strike ensured Wales started their European Championship Qualifying campaign with a victory.

Wales 1-0 Slovakia

UEFA EUROPEAN QUALIFIERS 

  • Sunday, 24 March 2019
  • Cardiff City Stadium

Having seen a number of chances in the first half, Wales were made to defend in the second half, showing true grit to ensure the win.

Swansea City's James netted his first international goal for Wales on his first competitive start.

Ryan Giggs named a completely different side to the one which narrowly beat Trinidad & Tobago on Wednesday as Gareth Bale was named as captain.

Wales slender win over Slovakia sees them move level on points with their opponents and Croatia.

Wales drew first blood with the opening goal of the game as the Cardiff City Stadium erupted. A fearsome shot from Daniel James on his first competitive start for Wales was struck past Martin Dúbravka to give Wales their first goal of the qualification campaign.

The goal gave them the confidence to press the visitor's defence with players like David Brooks and Harry Wilson forcing Slovakia to concede possession.

Fans thought Wales had doubled the lead, but David Brooks slight touch from Ben Davies’ low cross went into the side netting much to the disappointment of the supporters.

The Slovak defence were finding it hard to deal with the rapidness of goalscorer Daniel James with Denis Vavro booked for a lunge on the pacey winger.

Slovakia were finding it hard to break down a sturdy Welsh defence with new centre-back partnering Chris Mepham and James Lawrence giving Wales assurance at the back.

Wales went agonizingly close to a second. David Brooks used trickery to knock the ball past Dávid Hancko and cut inside the box to curl his effort just wide of the goal.

The final attack of the half fell to Wales after making a number of chances. Matt Smith’s corner was met by the head of Gareth Bale who headed wide.

Slovakia sent an early warning in the second half. Albert Rusnák was played through but his dinked effort was blocked by the face of Wayne Hennessey.

Wales should have doubled their lead on the hour mark. Dan James continued to get the better of Peter Pekarik and he laid a pass off to the unmarked Harry Wilson, but his shot went wide.

Slovakia had a spell of pressure and Róbert Mak was able to get a shot away but Hennessey was assertive. 

Ashley Williams was handed his 85th cap for Wales as he replaced goalscorer Dan James as Wales tried to sure things up. 

The hosts were being put under continuous pressure from Slovakia as the created a nervy finish. Peter Pekarìk crossed in to substitute Michal Duris who saw his point-blank header saved by Wayne Hennessey. 

Pekarik later had a header of his own, hitting the side netting as Slovakia continued to sniff around the Wales goal. 

Wales were able to withstand Slovakia pressure after five minutes of additional time with Miroslav Stoch's deflected effort the last action of the game.

Wales: Hennessey, B.Davies, Mepham, Allen, Smith, Brooks (T.Roberts 59), Bale (C), Roberts, Lawrence, Wilson (Vaulks 85), James (Williams 71)

Slovakia: Dúbravka, Pekarìk (Safranko 89), Vavro, Duda (Duris 65) Rusnák, Škriniar, Hancko, Hamšík (C), Kucka, Mak (Stoch 68), Lobotka. 

Attendance: 31,617