Wales Suffers Heavy Defeat to Slovakia, Increasing Pressure on Manager Rob Page

Wales endured a demoralizing 4-0 defeat against Slovakia in a friendly match in Trnava, heightening the pressure on manager Rob Page. This loss follows Thursday’s goalless draw with Gibraltar, where Welsh fans also expressed their discontent, calling for Page’s dismissal.

The defeat marked Wales’ heaviest in three years and capped a disappointing season, with their failure to qualify for Euro 2024 already drawing criticism. Slovakia, ranked 19 places below Wales, relished this final send-off before heading to Germany for their campaign against Belgium.

Slovakia had an early goal by David Hancko disallowed before Juraj Kucka scored shortly before halftime. Robert Bozenik doubled the lead after the break, and a deflection off Wales’ captain Ethan Ampadu added a third. Laszlo Benes’ late goal sealed the victory, prompting boos from the Welsh supporters.

The second-half goals and overall poor performance soured the atmosphere, with fans mocking Page’s appeals for patience during the team’s transition. The loss follows a period of discontent for Welsh fans, who have grown weary of Page’s promises of a “bigger picture” after a series of poor results, including an embarrassing home defeat to Armenia and a frustrating draw against the same team.

Page’s standing has fallen significantly since leading Wales to their first World Cup in 64 years. Despite the friendly nature of the matches against Slovakia and Gibraltar, the performances have invited further scrutiny.

Page’s Changes Fail to Inspire

The friendly was initially intended as preparation for Euro 2024, but Wales’ failure to qualify changed its context. The match followed an embarrassing draw against Gibraltar, which dampened the mood in the Welsh camp.

Page made seven changes from the Gibraltar game, reverting to a more familiar lineup but still missing key players like Ben Davies, Joe Rodon, Chris Mepham, Connor Roberts, Neco Williams, Harry Wilson, David Brooks, and Aaron Ramsey.

With the first-choice defense absent, Ampadu moved from midfield to center-back. While he guided the defense early on, Wales’ backline eventually faltered. They were fortunate when Hancko’s header was ruled offside but failed to capitalize on counter-attacking opportunities due to sloppy passing and hesitation.

Josh Sheehan’s free-kick created a chance for Kieffer Moore, but Slovakia’s goalkeeper Martin Dubravka made a crucial save. Slovakia took the lead just before halftime with Kucka’s low shot. After the break, Wales’ defense collapsed, allowing Bozenik and an unfortunate deflection off Ampadu to extend Slovakia’s lead. Benes’ goal in added time sealed the rout.

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