Soccer-Wales boss Page praises gritty team as he eyes Turkey win

·2 min read
Euro 2020 - Wales Training

(Reuters) - Manager Rob Page praised the character of his players after Wales salvaged a 1-1 draw with Switzerland in their European Championship opener in Baku on Saturday, leaving Group A wide open after the first round of matches.

The surprise 2016 semifinalists fell behind to a Breel Embolo header early in the second half but were helped by some wasteful Swiss finishing, as well as a correct offside call to deny Mario Gavranovic a late winner.

Another headed goal 16 minutes from time from the hard-working Cardiff City forward Kieffer Moore rescued a point from a game in which Page’s side were largely second-best.

"To go a goal behind to a team like Switzerland and show the endeavour to get back into it is a credit to the players. Overall it is a positive start," the manager told reporters.

"I thought we played OK. They are a great group of lads and the grit they showed in this game is no surprise to me."

Page also praised the hard work of goalscorer Moore, and said he was much more than just an obvious threat in the air.

"I've been impressed with Keiffer throughout his time in international football. He is not just a presence up top, his link-up play is good and he has a good touch."

The manager admitted the heat in Baku had made it difficult for his players, and played down the obvious disappointment of Manchester United winger Dan James when he was replaced just after Wales' goal.

"I liked the fact he was angry when he came off. He had run himself into the ground, he had given us everything and was dead on his feet. At times you have to make some decisions that upset people, but the team comes first."

Wales stay in Baku to face Turkey on Wednesday, a must-win game ahead of their clash with the powerful Italians in Rome in their final pool match.

"It is a really important game for us. We were very impressed with Italy (in their 3-0 win over Turkey on Friday). We thought they would be very good and they didn't disappoint us. It is now about the Turkey game.

"I was pleased with the performance today, but that doesn't mean it will be the same personnel. It does leave the group a little bit open, and we are looking forward to our game on Wednesday."

(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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