Shaqiri assist puts Wales under pressure – but former Red Ward steals the show

BEN PAINTER was watching the Liverpool players involved as Wales took on Switzerland in their Euro 2020 opener.

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There could have been three Liverpool FC representatives in action as Wales took on Switzerland in their Euro 2020 opener in Baku, but Xherdan Shaqiri was the only man who saw playing time.

Neco Williams watched from the bench with Swansea’s Connor Roberts preferred at right-back.

And Wales manager Robert Page went with Manchester United’s Daniel James and Tottenham’s Gareth Bale out wide leaving no place for Harry Wilson.


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Two former Reds started for Wales, however, with Danny Ward, now of Leicester City, and Stoke City man Joe Allen playing in goal and holding midfield respectively.

In the first half Shaqiri was causing problems from set-pieces, always a danger from corners and he had a decent game dropping deep to link up play.

In the 20th minute he surprised the Welsh defence by whipping in a low corner from the right and Newcastle centre back Fabian Schär flicked it on but Ward was equal to it.

He didn’t see much of the ball within open play and Switzerland needed to get their attacking outlet in positions of greater influence so he could help make things happen as the score remained 0-0 going into the break.

Shaqiri’s set-piece prowess finally came to something in the 49th minute as he found the head of Breel Embolo, who beat Roberts in the air to head home.

Wales found their way into the game after manager Vladimir Petković made a change to take off Shaqiri and replace him with the more defensive-minded midfielder Denis Zakaria in the 65th minute.

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Switzerland thought they found a winner in the 85th minute through Mario Gavranović off the bench but it was ruled offside by VAR – a let off for Wales who are left both their Liverpool players on the bench.

With a lack of attacking edge at times, maybe Wilson will start on Wednesday against Turkey ahead of Dan James, who was largely ineffectual throughout in Azerbaijan.

Roberts had a decent game at right-back but but was caught out a little for the Switzerland goal. Williams is a more attack-minded option, so this could be something Page considers going into the game against Turkey.

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The former Reds Ward and Allen both had great games, with the former playing especially well between the sticks. He denied the Swiss many times keeping Wales into the game, including a vital tip around the post in second half injury time.

Perhaps it was a mistake taking off Shaqiri so early into the game as the Swiss lost a creative outlet they could have done with after Kieffer Moore headed in Wales’ leveller.

The Welsh players will face Ozan Kabak’s Turkey side in their next game, while Shaqiri and his Swiss teammates face a tough test in Italy.

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