10 October 2019 22:54
WALES missed the chance to move level with second-placed Slovakia in Euro 2020 qualifying Group E as they were forced to settle for a share of the spoils in Trnava. Ryan Giggs' men remain three points behind tonight's opponents with as many games remaining, while leaders Croatia look set to claim the automatic qualification spot after beating Hungary 3-0. Wales could've taken a step closer to securing a place in the play-offs had they not given up a half-time lead at the Stadión Antona Malatinského. Kieffer Moore's header was cancelled out after the interval by Juraj Kucka's excellent finish, while Slovakia finished with 10 men due to Norbert Gyomber's late dismissal. Giggs gave defender Tom Lockyer his competitive debut in favour of the recalled Ashley Williams, while Ben Davies came in for Neil Taylor at left-back.
Wingers Tom Lawrence and Harry Wilson were not fit for the starting XI so Jonny Williams and Moore, another making his competitive bow, got the nod. It was almost a nightmare start for Lockyer as he dawdled on the ball just inside his own half and the hosts nearly took the lead from the resulting attack. Slovakia skipper Marek Hamsik delivered a cross into the Wales box, Robert Bozenik's delightful touch found Robert Mak and only a crucial block by Ethan Ampadu saved Lockyer's blushes. Wales captain Gareth Bale got involved in the game when he picked up a cheap booking, but the Real Madrid star then went so close to opening the scoring. Jonny Williams appeared to be fouled, the ball broke to Connor Roberts, his cross was met by the head of Bale and he could only look on in agony as his effort struck the crossbar.
However, the visitors didn't have to wait much longer for their first away goal in Group E qualifying. Dan James worked his magic on the left-hand side, floated a cross into the box and Moore, in space, headed the ball back from where it came and into keeper Martin Dubravka's far corner. Slovakia always looked dangerous going forward and a slick passing move created another chance for Mak. Hamsik was involved again but this time Mak's shot was comfortably saved by Wayne Hennessey. Two minutes later there were big appeals for a penalty from the Wales players, and at first glance it seemed a stonewall spot-kick for a challenge on Jonny Williams. But Spanish referee Carlos del Cerro Grande got the call right as replays showed Gyomber had got a touch on the ball. Wales held their lead until the break, although Kucka went close to equalising after a jinking run. There didn't seem to be much on when Peter Pekarik's cross from the right was headed clear by a diving Roberts. However, 70-cap man Kucka hit a first-time volley that fizzed along the ground and past Hennessey. Kucka's 53rd-minute strike lifted the home side and Albert Rusnak would have put them in front had it not been for a superb one-handed save by Hennessey low to his right. At the other end, Dubravka needed to be alert to keep out a close-range flick from scorer Moore. Despite Slovakia bossing possession, Wales were still able to create openings in the final third, with one falling to Joe Rodon. The defender couldn't believe his glancing header had deflected off Gyomber and not found the back of the net. The lumbering Gyomber, having already been booked, was given his marching orders with two minutes of the 90 to go as clattered into Moore from behind. Then Bale was perhaps fortunate to stay on the pitch moments later when he injured himself challenging Milan Skriniar. Wales: Hennessey; Roberts, Rodon, Lockyer, Davies; Allen, Ampadu (Morrell 58), Bale (capt), J Williams (Wilson 66), James; Moore. Subs not used: Gunter, Taylor, A Williams, T Roberts, Vokes, Ward, Lawrence, A Davies, Matondo, Vaulks. Referee: Carlos del Cerro Grande (Spain) Moore scored his first international goal but Wales were held. KIEFFER MOORE'S FIRST goal for Wales was not enough for Ryan Giggs' men as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Slovakia in Thursday's Euro 2020 qualifier. Wales took the lead at Stadion Antona Malatinskeho through Moore's maiden goal 25 minutes into his first competitive start for the senior side. But they were denied a third successive victory by Juraj Kucka's goal early in the second half as Slovakia, who had Norbert Gyomber sent off late on, fought back strongly for a point. The point leaves the visitors fourth in Group E and three points behind Slovakia, although they have a game in hand on each of the sides above them. Wales were 1-0 winners when these sides met in Cardiff seven months ago and they took a deserved lead in Trnava. Less than a minute after Gareth Bale's looping header struck the angle of post and crossbar, Moore got on the end of Daniel James' cross from the left to head into the bottom-left corner. Robert Mak squandered a good opportunity to level before half-time when firing straight at Wayne Hennessey from a promising position, but Slovakia were on level terms eight minutes into the second half. Connor Roberts' headed clearance fell nicely for Kucka, who rifled a volley past Hennessey from the edge of the 18-yard box. Hennessey was called into action to keep out Albert Rusnak's low drive as Slovakia searched for a winner, but Kucka was shown a second yellow for clattering into Moore two minutes from time to end their hopes of finding one. The42 is on Instagram! Tap the button below on your phone to follow us!