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THE MARK OF RESPECT, BLOOD SPILT AND VAR IS JUST RIGHT.

Byline: IAN MITCHELMORE Football Writer in Baku ian.mitchelmore@walesonline.co.uk

KIEFFER Moore's secondhalf header earned Wales what could yet be a valuable point in their Euro 2020 opener against Switzerland.

The Cardiff City forward struck his sixth international goal on 74 minutes to cancel out Breel Embolo's 49th minute effort.

Here are some of the moments you may have missed from the game in Baku.

A MARK OF RESPECT Prior to the game, Wales' players lined up to sing the national anthem.

Decked out in slick white tracksuit jackets, the 11 starters turned 90 degrees to their left to face a small pocket of around 200 Wales fans who were in close proximity in the bottom section of the stadium's bowl.

It was a gesture that was evidently appreciated by those hardy members of the Red Wall who made the journey to Baku.

Shortly after came another huge show of respect as all 22 players and match officials took the knee in a show of unity against racism.

Some England fans were criticised after booing when players took the knee during a recent 1-0 friendly win over Austria at Middlesbrough's Riverside Stadium.

However, there was no such controversy at Baku's Olympic Stadium where fans, players, officials and coaches were clearly united when it came to sending a strong message in the fight against discrimination.

MOORE'S TERRY BUTCHER MOMENT, AND A 6FT 5IN PROBLEM Moore was evidently frustrated and furiously punched his own hand in anger after being denied by Yann Sommer's flying save.

Then, he needed treatment from the resulting corner after taking a blow to the face.

After wearily returning to his feet,

Moore then had to get back down on his knees on the turf to allow the medics to administer sufficient treatment while also strapping up the wound with red bandaging. It was his very own Terry Butcher moment.

Despite the fact that the majority of the pitch was in shade, each break allowed players to take on some much needed fluids - with thermometers showing 27 degrees in the early stages of the game.

The Swiss continued to impress and deservedly went ahead shortly after the restart as Embolo beat Connor Roberts to head beyond the despairing Danny Ward.

That goal prompted more than half of the 20 or so Swiss die-hards who were bunched together to take of f their replica shirts and frantically swirl them above their heads.

That opener did not dampen the spirits of the Wales fans in attendance as they belted out a rendition of Men of Harlech just minutes after their side went 1-0 down.

PAGE LEFT WITH HEAD IN HANDS Page's paces back and forth from the dugout to the touchline were also hastening as Wales looked to find a way back into the match.

He had his head in his hands on 64 minutes as Aaron Ramsey's teasing free-kick evaded his team mates, and the Red Wall once again responded with an impromptu rendition of Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau in a bid to rally their troops.

The loudest round of applause of the day came somewhat bizarrely when Xherdan Shaqiri was replaced by Denis Zakaria midway through the second half, although the Liverpool man's slow trudge of f the pitch allowed him to milk the still somewhat faint ripple of clapping.

To their credit, Wales continued to push.

And they were level on 74 minutes as Moore's glancing header from Joe Morrell's cross nestled into the bottom right-hand corner of Sommer's goal.

The Red Wall went suitably ballistic, and the mood suddenly shifted as Wales sensed they could go come from behind to win a match for the first time since beating Belgium 3-1 in the quarter-finals of Euro 2016.

JAMES' BEWILDERMENT James was less than impressed as he was hooked immediately after the equaliser, with David Brooks replacing the Manchester United winger.

The 23-year-old had arguably been Wales' biggest threat, and his disappointment at being withdrawn was entirely understandable.

Page admitted Daniel James was not happy about being substituted but defended his decision.

"It was for the good of the team.

There are three games in quick succession and he looked dead on his feet and that's because of the work he put in up to that moment,"

said Page. "When you know you've got someone of the quality of David Brooks to come on and put Bale on the left to get crosses in for Kieffer, it's another option that we've got.

"DJ was disappointed coming of f but he's great in there now and it's all about the squad."

THE BREATHLESS VAR MOMENT The Red Dragons continued to push for a winner, although they thought they had lost it when substitute Mario

Gavranovic rifled beyond Ward from close range with what was his first touch after entering the fray.

Wales players were furious, although the coaching staf f and Page brought a calm to proceedings on the touchline as they gestured with their hands to perform a "calm down" type motion having seen replays which confirmed their feelings that the goal would be chalked of f by referee Clement Turpin.

And so it proved as loud jeers erupted when "No Goal" popped up on the stadium's two giant screens.

"VAR, my lord," chanted the Wales supporters as they revelled in Switzerland's misfortune.

A SHOW OF UNITY Switzerland pushed late on, although they couldn't find a late winner as the points were shared.

Wales players gathered in a large huddle on the pitch as skipper Bale made a speech after the game before walking over to the Dragons fans to show their appreciation for the support.

Bale said he was pleased with the character shown by his side.

"It was a hard game, both teams tried to play. It's an opening game so it was a little bit tense but it's not a bad result. We'll take the positives and we go on to the next," he told BBC One. "We wanted to win the game. We had chances but so did they. It was a tight, tense game.

"You go 1-0 down and you can really crumble but I think we showed a lot of character, a lot of grit and determination like we always do and we showed our class to keep playing and to fight for the goal back.

"We have to use this as a springboard now to the next game."

" Page's men take on Turkey in Baku on Wednesday before facing Italy in theirfinal group stage match in Rome on Sunday, June 20.

CAPTION(S):

Wales skipper Gareth Bale speaks to his team after the 1-1 draw

Gareth Bale and his teammates turned towards the Wales fans when the anthem was played PICTURE: Getty Images
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:IAN MITCHELMORE Football Writer in Baku ian.mitchelmore@walesonline.co.uk
Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:9AZER
Date:Jun 13, 2021
Words:1120
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