FORMER lifeguard Kieffer Moore came to the rescue for Wales with a crucial late equaliser.
Rob Page’s Dragons were second best for much of their Group A opener and trailed to Breel Emblolo’s opener.
WIN £50,000! Play Dream Team Euros – our FREE fantasy football game
But giant Cardiff striker Moore got his head to a Joe Morrell cross late on to breathe new life into their hopes of making the knock-out stages again.
A victory over Turkey back here on Wednesday evening would almost certainly be enough to put them in the last 16.
And who could have seen that coming for most of the first three quarters of this game with Wales struggling to keep their heads above water.
They call Azerbaijan the Land of Fire but there was precious little of it coming from the Dragons – who looked like they had run out of puff.
But Moore – who is named after 24 star Sutherland – decided he was going to rewrite the script.
He was a surprise starter here – given that he has been used only sparingly since Page took over managerial duties from Ryan Giggs in November.
Moore had played a big part in getting them to the finals after being given his big chance in autumn 2019.
So maybe it was all part of the plan by Page to surprise the Swiss – and if so, you have to say it paid off.
EURO 2020 BETTING SPECIAL – NEW CUSTOMER OFFERS
- 🏴 Group kings: 30/1 on England to qualify for the knockouts
- ⚽️ Opening game: England 35/1 to beat Croatia
- 🏴 Shirt deal: England 20/1 to wear white home shirt
- ⚽️ Sharp shooters: 40/1 England to have 2+ shots on target v Croatia
- 🏴 Bet builder: 88/1 tip for England vs Croatia
In fact, he could have had his goal earlier but for a spectacular save by Yann Sommer.
Dan James got away down the left and held up a cross which the 6ft 5in forward met with a looping header.
That’s exactly what he brings to the team and his effort looked to be heading in before Sommer just got his fingertips to it.
Perhaps the game would have been different had that gone in – but from there the Swiss took control.
Wales keeper Danny Ward had got the nod over Euro 2016 hero Wayne Hennessey and he was called into action soon afterwards.
Newcastle’s Fabian Schar met a corner at the front post and got his shot away but Ward got down smartly to save with his legs.
Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka – who could be on his way out of the Emirates – fired a decent opportunity wide.
Then Haris Seferovic turned neatly and looked sure to score but curled his shot inches wide of the post.
Wales were being pegged back but with James at least they had an outlet and he raced away down the left before being hauled down by Schar, who was rightly yellow carded.
Yet skipper Gareth Bale could not provide any magic from the resulting free-kick.
And Page would have been concerned at how deep his team were with Seferovic again finding space before firing his shot over the angle.
Right on half-time another chance went begging as Breel Embolo held off Chris Mepham and squared for Seferovic who once again failed to find the target.
The Swiss felt they might have had a penalty in the build up as the Bournemouth defender was all over his man but ref Clement Turpin was not convinced.
Speaking of Turpin, it was something of a daylight robbery that Vladimir Petkovic’s men were not ahead at the break.
Page and his men would have been relieved to hear the half-time whistle.
But the reprieve would not last long as they once again gave away possession straight from the kick-off.
Embolo got away from the Wales defence but was thwarted by a a fine stop by Ward – but the Borussia Monchengladbach forward was not to be denied.
Liverpool’s Xherdan Shaqiri sent over the resulting corner from the right and Embolo found space to nod home the opener with Connor Roberts losing his man.
Shaqiri is only a bit part player at Anfield but he is the main man for his country and tends to be involved in their big moments.
Even the most ardent Wales fan would struggle to say it had not been coming.
And it could have got worse soon afterwards as Embolo – who was ripping the Dragons defence apart – laid off for Kevin Mbabu who blasted into the side-netting.
Wales had to raise their game and had a couple of efforts as Ben Davies saw a shot deflected over before Aaron Ramsey whipped a free-kick across goal that somehow evaded everyone.
WIN £50,000 with Dream Team Euros
Dream Team Euros is HERE!
The best fantasy football game to accompany Euro 2020 has arrived.
And you can play absolutely FREE for your chance to win the £50,000 jackpot.
CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR FREE!
Dream Team Euros
- £50,000 jackpot
- The best fantasy football game this summer
- Play in mini-leagues against your mates, colleagues, family members – and some hand-picked celebrities
- FREE to play
This was their best spell of the game although there were still warning signs at the other end as Embolo once again found space but curled his effort just wide.
Page was just thinking about a change with his team looking low on energy when the equaliser arrived.
A short corner routine saw the ball end up at the feet of Joe Morrell who whipped over a cross from the right.
This time Moore got in at the front post and his header skipped past Sommer into the corner.
Wales sensed they could go on and win it and came close with sub David Brooks sending over a low cross that just evaded the on-rushing Ramsey.
A late scare came when sub Mario Gavranovic volleyed home with his first touch from close range – but the VAR came to Wales rescue and ruled the goal offside.
Ward had to make a smart save to push Embolo’s header over as the Dragons did not seem to have learned their lesson from the opening goal.
But they hung on for a point which keeps their hopes very much alive.
Source: Read Full Article