Wales earned a point with a 1-1 draw against Switzerland in their opening match of Euro 2020 at the Olympic Stadium in Azerbaijan.
Breel Embolo powered a header in from a set piece early in the second half, giving the Swiss a deserved lead before Kieffer Moore’s equaliser sent Welsh fans into raptures.
In a scoreless first half, Yann Sommer made an excellent save to deny Moore, while Wales were perhaps lucky to not concede a penalty when Chris Mepham had a hold of Embolo’s shirt.
Switzerland dominated for much of the match and Embolo’s pace and power meant he was a constant thorn in Wales’ side, and he teed up Kevin Mbabu moments after the opening goal - only for the full-back to tamely miss.
Wales came close themselves, with Ben Davies blazing over while Aaron Ramsey’s delightful free kick was begging to be put in the back of the net before Moore’s equaliser - and the Welsh survived a late VAR scare for good measure.
Here are the player ratings from Baku:
Danny Ward – 9. The 27-year-old made a smart save to deny Schar’s clever flick. Tremendous stop to deny Embolo in the second half, and could do little about the striker’s header moments later.
Connor Roberts – 7. He made a crucial intervention to deny a lurking Rodriguez from a cross.
Chris Mepham – 6. Mepham made a crunching challenge to dispossess Embolo, but was very lucky to not concede a penalty at the end of the first half when grabbing plenty of the forward’s shirt.
Joe Rodon – 8. An exceptional performance from the Spurs defender, as he kept Seferovic at bay.
Ben Davies – 7. The Spurs defender was disposed by Mbabu but defended well, particularly to clear away from the Swiss full back.
Joe Allen – 6. Allen struggled to make an impact in midfield as Wales were pegged back inside their own half.
Joe Morrell – 5. Anonymous, and generally seemed out of his depth. Fine cross for the assist, however.
Aaron Ramsey – 6. The Juventus midfielder’s defensive contribution was enormous. He was perhaps too quiet in possession. His free kick was begging to be pounced upon but no teammates made the run.
Gareth Bale – 5. His first meaningful moment was a free kick that the winger whipped into a dangerous area, only for no Welsh attackers to get on the end of it. It ended up being his only meaningful moment.
Dan James – 7. The Manchester United winger was lacking early as a loose pass rolled out of play, but his play to tee up Moore was excellent. James’ willingness to track back was crucial.
Kieffer Moore – 8. Unlucky not to open the scoring with a header on 15 minutes as he was expertly denied by Sommer. Despite leading the line, his defensive contribution was enormous as Moore cleared several dangerous corners. His biggest contribution came in the latter stages, as he thumped a header into the corner to equalise.
David Brooks - 6.
Yann Sommer – 8. After a nervy start from the veteran goalkeeper, he made a stunning save to deny Moore.
Nico Elvedi – 6. A composed performance from Elvedi in a quiet match for the Mochengladbach defender.
Fabian Schar – 7. The Newcastle defender almost gave his country the lead with a clever backheel from the corner but was denied by Ward. Cynical challenge to bring down James on the counter, but he dealt with Moore well.
Manuel Akanji – 6. The Dortmund central defender shanked a cross-field pass in the early stages, but settled and was relatively unthreatened.
Kevin Mbabu – 8. Mbabu made a crucial challenge to stop James breaking free on the counter-attack, and he was a constant menace down the right-hand side. Should have done better when teed up by Embolo.
Remo Freuler – 6. Anonymous in midfield, but he slotted in nicely next to Xhaka as Switzerland won the midfield battle.
Granit Xhaka – 7. The Arsenal midfielder dictated the tempo and orchestrated much of Switzerland’s offensive play.
Ricardo Rodriguez – 7. The Torino full back, deployed as a wing back, bombed forward at will and displayed his excellent crossing ability on a number of occasions.
Xherdan Shaqiri – 7. It was a quiet performance from the Liverpool forward, but his corner picked out Embolo for the opening goal.
Breel Embolo – 9. The Borussia Mochengladbach striker showed flashes of why he is a key threat for the Swiss, with his pace and power proving difficult to stop. Unlucky not to score with a fine hit, but his header was deserved.
Haris Seferovic – 6. The target man made a smart turn to shoot just wide and over the top from distance, and linked up well with the likes of Shaqiri and Rodriguez.
Denis Zakaria – 6.
Mario Gavranovic - 6.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies