Pressure rises on Page as Wales thumped in Slovakia

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

Slovakia received the perfect Euro 2024 send-off as Juraj Kucka and Robert Bozenik struck either side of the break, with Danny Ward at fault for the opener on the stroke of half-time.

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

The pressure has risen on Page since Wales missed out on this summer’s Euros and two June friendlies have proved nothing short of a disaster.

Page was booed by Wales fans after Thursday’s goalless 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 he was focused on the future and determined to blood young players ahead of the Nations League campaign this autumn.

Page was missing several senior players in Trnava – and Slovakia blew Wales 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 defender, with Ampadu moved from his usual midfield position.

Ward made an early save to deny Bozenik and Lukas Haraslin curled wide inside the opening four minutes.

Wales offered a counter-attacking threat through Brennan Johnson and Daniel James, but Slovakia’s superiority told as Ben Cabango blocked another Haraslin effort and Ampadu prevented Ondrej Duda from scoring.

Wales were possibly lucky to avoid going behind when David Hancho’s header was questionably ruled out for offside, with VAR not in operation to overturn the decision.

Bozenik then headed over from six yards before Wales mounted their first serious attacks inside the final 10 minutes of the first period, with Kieffer Moore twice denied by Martin Dubravka.

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

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

Ward escaped after the break as the ball ricocheted onto the bar when Denis Vavro challenged him from a corner, with the goalkeeper gratefully claiming the rebound.

But 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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