Wales 1-1 Switzerland: Kieffer Moore header secures point in Euro 2020 opener

Match report as Kieffer Moore rescues a nervy point for Wales; Breel Embolo nodded Switzerland ahead, but Mario Gavranovic's late strike was ruled out for offside by VAR; First draw between Wales and Switzerland in international meetings; Wales play Turkey in Baku on Wednesday

Wales' Kieffer Moore celebrates after scoring against Switzerland
Image: Wales' Kieffer Moore celebrates after scoring the equaliser against Switzerland

Kieffer Moore's second-half header secured a hard-fought point for Wales in their Euro 2020 opener as they drew 1-1 with Switzerland in Baku.

The Cardiff City forward had already had the best chance of the first half - forcing an acrobatic save from Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer - but Wales rode the wave of Switzerland pressure to go in level at the break.

Shortly after the restart, the Swiss took advantage of their numerous set-pieces as Breel Embolo nodded home from Xherdan Shaqiri's corner.

But Wales began to fashion chances and they scored in somewhat similar fashion as Joe Morrell sent in a cross after a short corner and an inexplicably unmarked Moore glanced a header past Sommer.

There was late drama in Azerbaijan too as VAR ruled out Mario Gavranovic's late strike for offside, mere seconds after the forward had come on as a substitute.

Switzerland pushed for a winner in the final minutes, but Wales held out for what could be an important point in Group A, which is topped by Italy after their 3-0 victory against Turkey on Friday evening.

Player ratings

Wales: Ward (7), C Roberts (6), Mepham (6), Rodon (7), B Davies (7), Allen (6), Morrell (7), Ramsey (6), Bale (6), Moore (7), James (6).

Subs used: Brooks (6), Ampadu (n/a).

Switzerland: Sommer (7), Elvedi (6), Schar (6), Akanji (6), Mbabu (7), Xhaka (7), Freuler (7), Rodriguez (7), Shaqiri (6), Embolo (8), Seferovic (7).

Subs used: Zakaria (6), Gavranovic (7).

Man of the match: Breel Embolo.

How Wales rode the Swiss pressure for a draw

Breel Embolo heads Switzerland in front against Wales
Image: Embolo heads Switzerland in front against Wales

Both sides had early sights of goal. Inside 90 seconds, Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen combined well in midfield, feeding Dan James down the left. However, his cross was collected by Sommer, while, at the other end, Kevin Mbabu nodded Ricardo Rodriguez's cross wide of the target.

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The best chance of the half came for Wales in the 15th minute. James took on Mbabu down the left flank, beating the Swiss defender, before sending in a cross. Moore then sent a looping header goalwards, but Sommer was across with an acrobatic, one-handed save to deny the Wales forward the opener.

Soon after, Danny Ward made a fine stop at the other end. Fabian Schar tried to flick home a corner, but the goalkeeper reacted brilliantly, sticking out a foot to see the ball away. Switzerland soon began to rack up the set-pieces and shots - registering 11 in the first half - with Haris Seferovic seeing a number of efforts going wide as his frustration visibly grew.

One of the best came in the first of two added minutes. Chris Mepham was lucky not to give a penalty away, grabbing onto Embolo's shirt as he held up the ball well inside the area. It soon rolled into Seferovic's path, but he could only send the ball past the post from close range.

Team news

  • Gareth Bale returned and Danny Ward got the nod over Wayne Hennessey in goal for Wales. Aaron Ramsey also started as interim boss Robert Page made seven changes from the final warm-up friendly against Albania, with returns for Connor Roberts, Joe Rodon, Joe Morrell, Daniel Moore and Kieffer Moore.
  • Premier League trio Granit Xhaka, Xherdan Shaqiri and Fabian Schar were in a Switzerland line-up showing seven changes from the side which had thrashed Liechtenstein 7-0 in their final pre-tournament game.

Switzerland finally made the breakthrough early in the second half. It came after some superb play from Embolo, driving between two defenders before his strike drew a wonderful leaping save from Ward. It handed the Swiss yet another corner, and Embolo got the better of Connor Roberts to powerfully nod home Shaqiri's delivery.

But Wales soon began to find some attacking bite as the clock ticked past the hour. Ben Davies fired from range after a cleared corner, but saw his effort deflected behind. Ramsey then delivered a wonderful free-kick, but no one could convert. Embolo almost added a second for Switzerland too, but his curling effort around Mepham just squeezed past the far post.

In the 74th minute, Moore nodded home Wales' first goal of Euro 2020. James took a short corner to Allen along the right flank and he in turn played in Morrell, who was waiting at the top corner. He lifted in a wonderful cross and Moore - somehow unmarked by Switzerland - glanced a header into the far corner.

Wales' Kieffer Moore celebrates after scoring against Switzerland
Image: Moore scored Wales' first goal of Euro 2020

With time running out for both sides to snatch the three points, Switzerland thought they had won it in the 85th minute. Gavranovic, who had been introduced no more than a minute earlier, volleyed home superbly at the near post but VAR intervened and eventually ruled the strike out for offside.

Wales had Ward to thank for their point too as Switzerland pushed for the winner. Embolo almost scored a carbon copy of his opening goal, but his header from Rodriguez's corner was tipped over superbly by the goalkeeper. Gavranovic was through again in added time, but Ward used his fingertips to send the ball away, although the Swiss forward was offside.

Man of the match - Breel Embolo

Breel Embolo headed Switzerland in front against Wales in Baku
Image: Breel Embolo headed Switzerland in front against Wales in Baku

Embolo was the driving force behind Switzerland's attacking play. He scored a superb opener and probably should have added a couple more to his tally.

Twice early in the second half, Embolo breezed past the Wales defenders like they were not there, He had the highest number of shots in the game (6), with three on target. He will be vital for Switzerland going forward.

What the managers said

Wales manager Rob Page: "To get off to a positive start was important for us. I see that as a positive, to go a goal behind against quality opposition and show the endeavour to come back and get an equaliser is credit to the players.

"There's aspects we'd like to improve on, and we'll address and work on again, but in the main it's a positive to get off to a good start.

"Wardy was outstanding today, although against France we were down to 10 men and the scoreline was greater than today, he gave me a good account of himself and gave me a headache with regards to the selection.

"We thought Italy were going to be very good and they didn't let us down last night against a good Turkish team, we've got our work cut out but it does leave it open - and we're looking forward to the game on Wednesday."

Switzerland manager Vladimir Petkovic: "We have known from the start it's an embattled group. Italy are the clear favourite, we know we have to improve in the next two matches, be better, if we create opportunities we have to be more clinical.

"We've not lost anything here, no gap to the other teams, we're still in this group, Wales have to play Turkey next and we will try to take points against Italy."

Opta stats - Wales love a header

  • Wales are unbeaten in their last two matches in all competitions against Switzerland (W1 D1), having lost five of their first six against the Swiss (W1), with this the first ever draw between the two sides.
  • Switzerland remain winless against British sides at major tournaments (World Cup and European Championships), with this their fifth such match against British teams (D2 L3).
  • Kieffer Moore has scored four of his six goals in all competitions for Wales via headers, while three of Wales' last four goals at the European Championships have been headers.

What's next?

Wales are next in action on Wednesday when they take on Turkey, once again in Baku, kick-off 5pm. Switzerland will now travel to Rome to take on Italy, also on June 16, kick-off 8pm.

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