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Saturday, April 20

TIMELINE

In focus: Gareth Bale vs. Slovakia

PA | 27d
The Real Madrid star captained his country as they got off to a winning start in their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign.

Gareth Bale captained Wales in their Euro 2020 qualifier against Slovakia at Cardiff City Stadium after Ashley Williams was dropped to the bench.

And it proved a successful afternoon for the Real Madrid star as Wales claimed a 1-0 win.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at Bale's performance.

LEADERSHIP

Gareth Bale also captained Wales against Denmark (Tim Goode/PA)

Bale skippered Wales for the second time in his career, following on from wearing the armband in a Nations League clash against Denmark earlier this season. He could not have scripted a better start, with Daniel James putting Wales ahead after just five minutes, and Bale led with a calm, composed maturity. Slovakia often tested Wales, but for the captain it was a case of job done.

ATTACKING THREAT

Bale had chances to get on the scoresheet himself against Slovakia (Darren Staples/PA)

Had to take an early back-seat for all the right reasons as Daniel James occupied centre-stage by giving Wales a fifth-minute lead, but he quickly began asking questions of Slovakia's defenders. Two first-half headers kept Slovakia goalkeeper Martin Dubravka occupied, and he was always someone that Slovakia's defenders could not afford space.

TEST OF TEMPERAMENT

Bale came into the Slovakia clash following a testing time in Spain, where he had been criticised by fans and in the media despite scoring 14 goals in 35 games for Real Madrid this season. But he always thrives in the Wales environment, which often brings the best out of him, and his work-rate never dipped as his team collected three points.

A TALISMAN FOR WALES' YOUNG GENERATION

Bale's impact on Wales has been well-chronicled for several seasons, and he is now a senior figure for an exciting new brigade led by the likes of James, David Brooks and Harry Wilson. While they inevitably flourish in tandem with such a world-class operator, Bale is also thriving on the energy and dynamism his team-mates bring to the party.



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