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Pressure mounts on Wales boss Rob Page after hammering in Slovakia
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Phil Blanche
Press Association
Wales manager Rob Page will face further flak after his side’s 4-0 defeat to Slovakia (David Davies/PA)
Wales manager Rob Page will face further flak after his side’s 4-0 defeat to Slovakia (David Davies/PA)

Depleted Wales were hammered 4-0 in Slovakia to pile further pressure on beleaguered boss Rob Page.

Slovakia got the perfect Euro 2004 send-off as Juraj Kucka and Robert Bozenik struck either side of the break, with Wales goalkeeper Danny Ward at fault for the opener on the stroke of half-time.

Ethan Ampadu, leading Wales for the first time, unfortunately turned the ball into his own net on the hour and Laszlo Benes’ superb late strike completed the rout.

The pressure has cranked up on Page since Wales missed out on this summer’s European Championship, and two June friendlies have proved nothing short of a disaster for him.

Page was booed by Wales’ fans after Thursday’s goalless friendly draw against Gibraltar, the world’s 203rd-ranked team who had not avoided defeat in a 14-game run stretching back to November 2022.

Some of those supporters had called for Page to be sacked, but the manager insisted that he was focused on the future and determined to blood young players ahead of the Nations League campaign in the autumn.

Page had more senior players at his disposal for this Trnava friendly, but Slovakia blew them away in a devastating 16-minute spell either side of the interval.

Wales were without the entire defence that had lined up against Poland in the Euro play-off final defeat on penalties – Ben Davies, Chris Mepham, Connor Roberts, Joe Rodon and Neco Williams.

The creativity of Aaron Ramsey, David Brooks and Harry Wilson was also missing, and Page ripped up his favoured formation to play four at the back with Ampadu moved there from his usual midfield station.

Slovakia were keen to get the party started with Ward getting down low to deny Bozenik and Lukas Haraslin curling wide inside the opening four minutes.

Wales offered a counter-attacking threat through Brennan Johnson and Daniel James, with the Leeds winger particularly lively on the left.

But Slovakia’s superiority told as Ben Cabango got in the way of another Haraslin effort and Ampadu blocked Ondrej Duda’s goalbound effort.

They also had the ball in the Wales net after 25 minutes as David Hancko met Duda’s cross with a fine header.

The assistant referee had no hesitation raising his flag for offside, but the absence of VAR possibly did Wales a favour on closer inspection.

Bozenik headed over from six yards before Wales mounted their first serious attacks inside the final 10 minutes of the first period.

Kieffer Moore met Josh Sheehan’s free-kick to force a smart save from Martin Dubravka, and the Bournemouth striker was denied again from the following corner after Cabango had won his aerial duel at the far post.

Johnson also fired wide from a tight angle after Nathan Broadhead had spurned a better shooting opportunity.

As the first-half clock ticked down Slovakia struck through Kucka, who had scored against Wales in a Euro 2020 qualifier on the same ground.

The impressive Hasalin broke down the right and squared to Kucka, and his 25-yard drive bisected Ampadu and Cabango with Ward rooted to the spot.

Ward escaped after the break as the ball ricocheted onto the bar as Denis Vavro challenged him from a corner. The ball rebounded into Ward’s grateful hands.

Slovakia doubled their lead as Bozenik tucked away Hancko’s cross and there was further despair for Wales as Haraslin’s spectacular volley hit Ampadu to beat Ward again.

Dubravka denied Wes Burns a consolation from close range and Benes’ brilliant effort in the final seconds completed a night to forget for Wales.


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