Tue, Mar 26, 2019 - Page 16 News List

Winger James the hero as Wales see off Slovakia


Slovakia goalkeeper Martin Dubravka, left, dives for the ball against Wales in their UEFA Euro 2020 Group E qualifier at the Cardiff City Stadium in Wales on Sunday.

Photo: Reuters

Daniel James was Wales’ goal-scoring hero on Sunday as they launched their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign with a 1-0 win over Slovakia in Cardiff.

Swansea City winger James, making his first competitive start for Wales, struck in just the fifth minute with a goal that ultimately saw the hosts to victory.

“It was a good start after we got that early goal,” James told Sky Sports. “From then on, we had to dig in. The only thing I had in my head was to shoot and luckily it went in.”

Wales star Gareth Bale, captaining the side in place of benched regular skipper Ashley Williams, added: “Everyone put in a shift today.”

“We built our success off a good solid defense. We work hard in units. We always knew we could nick a goal. In the second half we came under a lot of pressure, but we started the game well, got the early goal then shut up shop, and we know how to do that,” the Real Madrid forward said.

Slovakia were unchanged after beating Hungary 2-0 in their opening qualifier on Thursday last week and Wales manager Ryan Giggs, who made 11 changes from Wednesday last week’s 1-0 friendly victory over Trinidad and Tobago, was delighted by the way his side had coped.

“It’s not easy. I tried to play it down because I knew other teams played first, but you do feel the pressure,” Giggs said. “In the first half we showed real composure. We rode our luck a little bit in the second half and I thought we could have scored a few more in the first, but some of the play was fantastic, paired with great determination.”

Wales’ next two qualifiers are away fixtures against Croatia and Hungary on June 8 and June 11 respectively.

Also on Sunday, it was:

‧ N Ireland 2, Belarus 1

‧ Hungary 2, Croatia 1

‧ Israel 4, Austria 2

‧ Poland 2, Latvia 0

‧ Slovenia 1, Macedonia 1

‧ Kazakhstan 0, Russia 4

‧ San Marino 0, Scotland 2

‧ Cyprus 0, Belgium 2

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