International roundup: Pressure on Page as Wales thrashed in Slovakia

Depleted Wales were hammered 4-0 in Slovakia to pile further pressure on beleaguered boss Rob Page.

Slovakia got the perfect Euro 2024 send-off as Juraj Kucka and Robert Bozenik struck either side of the break, with the Wales goalkeeper Danny Ward at fault for the opener on the stroke of half-time. Ethan Ampadu, leading Wales for the first time, unfortunately turned the ball into his own net on the hour and Laszlo Benes’ superb late strike completed the rout.

The pressure has cranked up on Page since Wales missed out on this summer’s European championship, and two June friendlies have proved nothing short of a disaster for him. Page was booed by Wales’ fans after Thursday’s goalless friendly draw against Gibraltar, the world’s 203rd-ranked team who had not avoided defeat in a 14-game run stretching back to November 2022.

Some of those supporters had called for Page to be sacked, but the manager insisted that he was focused on the future and determined to blood young players ahead of the Nations League campaign in the autumn.

Page had more senior players at his disposal for this Trnava friendly, but Slovakia blew them away in a devastating 16-minute spell either side of the interval.

Wales were without the entire defence that had lined up against Poland in the Euro playoff final defeat on penalties – Ben Davies, Chris Mepham, Connor Roberts, Joe Rodon and Neco Williams.

The creativity of Aaron Ramsey, David Brooks and Harry Wilson was also missing, and Page ripped up his favoured formation to play four at the back with Ampadu moved there from his usual midfield station.

French players acknowledge their fans after the draw with Canada. Photograph: Yohan Bonnet/AP

Slovakia were keen to get the party started with Ward getting down low to deny Bozenik and Lukas Haraslin curling wide inside the opening four minutes.

Wales offered a counter-attacking threat through Brennan Johnson and Daniel James, with the Leeds winger particularly lively on the left. But Slovakia’s superiority told as Ben Cabango got in the way of another Haraslin effort and Ampadu blocked Ondrej Duda’s goalbound effort.

As the first-half clock ticked down Slovakia struck through Kucka, who had scored against Wales in a Euro 2020 qualifier on the same ground. The impressive Hasalin broke down the right and squared to Kucka, and his 25-yard drive bisected Ampadu and Cabango with Ward rooted to the spot.

Slovakia doubled their lead as Bozenik tucked away Hancko’s cross in the second half and there was further despair for Wales as Haraslin’s spectacular volley hit Ampadu to beat Ward again.

Elsewhere, France and Canada played out a 0-0 draw in a friendly as the two nations concluded their preparations for Euro 2024 and the Copa America.

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France threatened to take the lead in the first half through efforts by N’Golo Kanté and Marcus Thuram but were denied by fine saves from the goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau.
The stalemate continued in the second half, with both sides creating chances but failing to find the back of the net.

It was the France forward Olivier Giroud’s last appearance on home soil after announcing his international retirement following the Euros, and he received a standing ovation at the Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux.

Euro 2024 kicks off in Germany on Friday, with France facing Austria on 17 June. Canada, under new coach Jesse Marsch, will kick off the Copa America against Lionel Messi’s Argentina on 20 June.

Italy edged Bosnia-Herzegovina 1-0 as midfielder Davide Frattesi scored a stunning first-half goal in their final warm-up match ahead of the Euros.

Frattesi put defending champions Italy in front in the 38th minute with a superb first-time finish into the roof of the net from a Federico Chiesa cross. The manager Luciano Spalletti made nine changes from Tuesday’s 0-0 draw against Turkey, retaining forward Chiesa and midfielder Jorginho in the starting lineup.

Italy start their Euro 2024 campaign on Saturday against Albania.

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