Former lifeguard Moore keeps Wales Euro hopes afloat in Slovakia draw
Trnava (Slovakia) (AFP)
Former lifeguard Kieffer Moore scored on his international competitive debut as Wales drew 1-1 with Slovakia on Thursday and Ryan Giggs' side stayed afloat in Euro 2020 qualifying.
Moore headed home in the 25th minute in Trnava before Slovakia deservedly levelled early in the second period through Juraj Kucka.
The result left Wales with seven points in Group E, six behind leaders Croatia and three back from Slovakia but they do have the luxury of a game in hand and a better head-to-head record over the Slovaks.
"Could I say enjoyed it? Not really. For a neutral, it was a great game to watch," Giggs told Sky Sports.
"We had the better chances. It could have been different but we were under pressure at times and we stood up well.
"I said before the game we need to be ruthless. We have some very talented players and we need to put away the chances that we create in the next three games.
"Sunday at home to Croatia is a very big game. It will be a great atmosphere so we can't wait."
Moore, a towering 6ft 5in (1.96m) centre-forward who plays his club football with Wigan in the English second tier, opened the scoring.
The 27-year-old rose unmarked just outside the six-yard box to head in from a pinpoint cross from Manchester United's Daniel James out on the left.
James had been picked out by a raking crossfield pass from Gareth Bale.
Just moments earlier, Bale, who came into the game with fresh doubts over his future at Real Madrid, had headed against the crossbar.
Bale has a liking for Slovakia. His first international goal came at home to the same opponents in 2006.
He had also been on target against them during a 2-1 win at Euro 2016.
For Moore, it was an international debut to remember. Just six years ago, he was playing non-league football and working as a lifeguard to make ends meet.
Wales thought they should have had a penalty as the opening period closed but defender Norbert Gyomber's clumsy sliding challenge on Jonny Williams was deemed legitimate by the referee.
Slovakia had some of the best opportunities in the early exchanges.
Robert Mak cleverly created space in the penalty area but teenage defender Ethan Ampadu blocked the drive.
Mak again had a sight of goal as half-time approached before full-back Connor Roberts came to the rescue.
The home side did eventually pull level eight minutes into the second half.
Wales only half-cleared a cross and with time to set himself midfielder Kucka unleashed a fierce left-foot volley from 20 yards which left goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey floundering.
Slovakia continued to pile on the pressure with Mak again denied by a block before Hennessey needed to dive at full stretch to push away a drive from the impressive Parma star Kucka.
As time ticked away, Gyomber was red-carded for a lunge on Moore before Bale, already on a yellow card, ended the game shaking off a knock picked up in a crude, late challenge on Milan Skriniar.
© 2019 AFP