Bratislava, Oct 12 : Slovakia kept up their hopes of surviving Group E of the European qualifiers after drawing Wales 1-1.
Real Madrid's star player and Wales' captain Gareth Bale was close to opening the score in the Anton Malatinsky Arena in Trnava in the middle of the first half but his header bounced off the crossbar. Just moments later, in the 25th minute, his teammates managed to put one past Slovakia's goalkeeper Martin Dubravka when Daniel James' cross found Moore Kieffer who silenced the sold-out arena with his first international goal.
The Slovak fans finally got something to cheer about eight minutes into the second half when Peter Pekarik's center was headed off by a defender and found the unguarded Juraj Kucka whose blast of a volley from the top of the penalty box sailed through everything in its path and equalized the game at 1-1 on Thursday.
The Slovaks ramped up their activity afterward and took over the match. Kucka tried a couple more times from a distance but his shots missed the target. The home team's increasing efforts to turn the match around got thwarted two minutes before the end of regulation when Norbert Gyomber's second yellow card put him out of the game and gave the visitors a chance to rally. However, Dubravka proved essential for the team once again, saving a vital point just moments later on Rodon's overhead kick and Moore's last chance of the game.
With the top two teams advancing after the group phase, Croatia leads Group E of the European Qualifiers with 13 points, Slovakia is trailing by two. Hungary lost their second in a row on Thursday, succumbing to Croatia 0-3 and sits in third place with 9 points. Wales is fourth with 7 and Azerbaijan last with only a single point but both only played five games compared to the rest that have already played six.(XINHUA)