SI Staff
Saturday June 11th, 2016

Gareth Bale has Wales's hopes at Euro 2016 on his shoulders, and he delivered in the nation's opening match of the competition against Slovakia. 

Bale scored off a wicked free kick in the 10th minute in Bordeaux, Wales's first goal in a major international tournament since 1958, and it kicked off the road to a 2-1 win over Slovakia.

Bale scored 63% of Wales's goals in Euro 2016 qualifying, proof of how much of a factor he is for the side, and he came through early on. Standing over the free kick much like his Real Madrid teammate Cristiano Ronaldo, Bale unleashed a left-footed blast that beat goalkeeper Matus Kozacik. The keeper appeared to think Bale would've tried to pull and curl it instead of pushing it toward the far post, and he was left wrong-footed and helpless as a result:  

Wales was fortunate not to have been down a goal at the time, after Marek Hamsik had a sure goal saved off the line by a hustling Ben Davies earlier in the match:

Slovakia did find an equalizer on the hour mark. Ondrej Duda, mere seconds after coming into the match, produced a smart, left-footed finish to make it 1-1. He became the first player to score on Wales in a major competition since Pele did in the 1958 World Cup:


The even score didn't last, though. Hal Robson-Kanu, off the bench for Wales, found himself in position to pounce on an outside-of-the-boot ball from Aaron Ramsey, and his mis-hit had just enough on it to wrong-foot Kozacik and sneak into the net for a 2-1 lead and eventual victory. 

Wales and Slovakia will also play England and Russia in Euro 2016's Group B.

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