Euro 2016

Bale's Wales will take on Three Lions without fear

Hal Robson-Kanu celebrating after helping Wales to a 2-1 win over Group B rivals Slovakia.
Hal Robson-Kanu celebrating after helping Wales to a 2-1 win over Group B rivals Slovakia.PHOTO: REUTERS

BORDEAUX • Gareth Bale is expecting a feisty encounter with England but said Wales will not approach the match any differently despite being in a position of strength following their 2-1 win over Slovakia in their Euro 2016 opener.

After the Real Madrid forward's stunning 10th-minute free kick was cancelled out by Slovakia's Ondrej Duda, substitute Hal Robson-Kanu netted an 81st-minute winner, meaning the Welsh will face England as Group B leaders.

Wales will be assured of a place in the last 16 if they beat England, who drew 1-1 with Russia, on Thursday.

"We understand it's going to be a derby. It's going to be feisty, but we'll prepare well," said Bale. "We're concentrating on ourselves and nobody else and we'll be ready.

"We want to win, we want to play well and we want to do everything we did against Slovakia."

Manager Chris Coleman vowed that Wales will not feel inferior.

"When we're at our best and give our very, very best, we don't need to be concerned who the opposition is," he said, after Wales' first major tournament game since 1958.

"We know it's going to be a huge challenge, but it's one we'll be ready for."

Bale deceived Matus Kozacik from 30 metres out to notch his 20th international goal. But for Coleman, it was the forward's game management in the closing stages that truly set him apart.

"Some of his best moments were at the end of the game, when we were 2-1 up," said the manager.

"He was basically heading the ball out of play in the corner to waste time. That's just football intelligence. It's not pretty, but it's anything for the three points."

Slovakia's loss, their first in nine matches, left them with little margin for error ahead of their meeting with Russia on Wednesday.

"It depends on the game," said the beaten coach Jan Kozak, whose side are appearing at their first European Championship as an independent nation. "How the match develops, how we enter the game. Obviously we made some errors.

"We would have liked it to be a different scoreline, but we will do our best to have a better result in the next game."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 13, 2016, with the headline 'Bale's Wales will take on Three Lions without fear'. Print Edition | Subscribe