Euro 2016 round up: Wales 2 Slovakia 1 - and what the result means

Gareth Bale of Wales (right) in action during the Uefa Euro 2016 match between Wales and Slovakia.
Gareth Bale of Wales (right) in action during the Uefa Euro 2016 match between Wales and Slovakia.PHOTO: EPA

Wales' slogan is "Together Stronger". It is the title of their Euro 2016 anthem, it is imprinted on wristbands, and it is plastered on the Cardiff City Stadium - the home of Welsh football.

The irony is that they are branded as a one-man team - a label reinforced when Gareth Bale was involved in 82 per cent of their goals in Euro qualifying. No player was more important in getting his team to France than the Real Madrid forward.

At the Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux, Bale was the influential yet again. But Wales proved they have other matchwinners.

Bale's free kick from 30 yards out gave his side a 10th-minute lead. But the collective effort was evident.

A three-man backline, marshalled by captain Ashley Williams, defended resolutely in the first half. Before kick-off, Slovakia must have sensed an opportunity to test the inexperienced Danny Ward, who was making his first start for his country following an injury to Wales No. 1 Wayne Hennessey. Ward, however, was rarely troubled in the opening period.

With Slovakia chasing the game, manager Jan Kozak had no choice but to make changes. Adam Nemec came on for Michal Duris and Ondrej Duda for Patrik Hrosovsky. Seconds after making the double substitution, Duda scored with his first touch.

 Wales manager Chris Coleman had a super-substitute of his own though. Hal Robson-Kanu, brought on in the 71st minute, netted 10 minutes later. And Wales held out for their first European Championship win - together.

Match highlights

- Slovakia dangerman Marek Hamsik Ben ghosted past the Welsh defence and appeared to have the whole goal to aim at. But his third-minute shot is cleared off the line by Ben Davies. The defender did well to recover after losing possession in his own half in the build-up.

- Wales are awarded a free kick 30 yards out. Bale took a short run up, hit the ball with the top of his foot, and his swerving effort wrong-footed Matus Kozacik.

-  Bale had a chance to double Wales' advantage. His header from 10 yards out is clawed away by Kozacik.

- Robert Mak sliced open the Welsh defence in the 60th minute with a pass and Duda finished the move off.

- Robson-Kanu puts Wales back in front with a scuffed shot in the 81st minute.

- Nemec hits the post in the 86th minute.

The talking point

Was Slovakia captain Martin Skrtel lucky to stay on the pitch? The defender elbowed Wales midfielder Jonny Williams in the box in the 32nd minute. Could have been a red card and a penalty.

Man of the Match

Bale. He barely lets his side down, and he seemed destined to score. His first ever goal for Wales was against Slovakia in October 2006, when he scored from a direct free-kick to become his country's youngest ever scorer at 17 years old. On Saturday, he foiled Slovakia again with a set-piece. More than that, he offered a constant threat on the counter-attack and could have scored at least once more.

What the result means

Wales nerves would have settled with this victory. They can go into The Battle of Britain on Thursday with the pressure lifted off their shoulders, particularly if England fail to match their neighbours' winning start when they take on Russia later Saturday. Wales have shown that they can dig deep and find solutions to eek out wins. Slovakia had the upper hand before Coleman's substitutions changed the game.

Key statistic

Bale scored with Wales' first ever shot on target in a European Championship, ending the country's 21,179-day wait for a goal in a major competition.

What they said

Bale: "The goal is right up there. A memorable moment, a historic moment for our country. The most important thing is we got the three points. Hal to get the winner is amazing. The subs have to make an impact and he was amazing when he came on. Everyone has a part to play and we will keep fighting."

Wales midfielder Joe Allen: "To go one up and get back into it was brilliant. That's what this team is all about, digging in and hanging on to it."