Second Slovakia Cup Defeat for Wales
8 May 2018

Second Slovakia Cup Defeat for Wales

Manager Paul Bodin made eight changes to his starting line-up as Wales quickly returned to Slovakia Cup action against Azerbaijan in Puste Ulany on Tuesday, less than 24 hours after suffering a 4-1 defeat to the host nation.

On another warm afternoon, Azerbaijan edged the early possession stats, but didn't pressure the Wales defence as the two teams settled into the match.

On 14 minutes, Callum Watts came close for Wales, but his free-kick on the edge of the area went narrowly wide. However, the chance sparked a reaction from Azerbaijan, and they took the lead a minute later when Toral Bayramov fired the ball past goalkeeper Adam Przybek with a fine strike.

Despite the setback, Wales continued to work hard, and thought they had equalised on 24 minutes when another free-kick from Watts struck the underside of the crossbar. Appeals that the ball had bounced over the line were dismissed by the assistant referee much to Wales' frustration, and the action quickly returned to the opposite end of the field.

Przybek denied Bayramov a second goal with a fine stop before the rebound was cleared off the line. On 35 minutes Rauf Huseynli almost extended Azerbaijan's lead from a corner, but his header went over the bar. It proved to be the last chance of the opening half, as Wales went into the break a goal down for the second time in as many days. 

A double change for Wales at the break saw Jack Vale and Jay Foulston introduced, but it was Azerbaijan who made their intentions clear from the restart as they forced a couple of early corners. But Wales responded through Luke Jephcott, and after finding himself through goal, the striker fired his shot narrowly wide after 46 minutes. 

On 54 minutes, Azerbaijan extended their lead through Emil Gasimov, as he made no mistake from close range to beat Przybek. Wales reacted in the right way, with Jephcott again coming close minutes later, and Vale bringing a fine save from Nijat Mehbaliyev as the match entered the final 15 minutes. However, Elnur Ibrahimov added a third on 67 minutes to put the game out of Wales' reach.

Wales pressured the Azerbaijan defence in the final minutes, but a frustrating afternoon ended with Connor Davies being sent off for a second yellow card in injury time. The 3-0 defeat means that Wales remain bottom of Group A after two games ahead of Thursday's match against Hungary. The final placings will then be decided on Friday when Wales play their final match of the tournament.