‘TIME to make history’ was the rallying cry beforehand and Wales did just that with a fabulous 2-1 victory over Slovakia to ensure a perfect start to their Euro 2016 campaign.

Super sub Hal Robson-Kanu was the match winner with a scuffed shot into the bottom corner nine minutes from time.

But there was a team full of heroes in red at the Stade de Bordeaux – from reserve goalkeeper Danny Ward, through the inspired Joe Allen in midfield to opening goalscorer Gareth Bale in attack.

Chris Coleman’s men, backed by 24,000 fans in overdrive, have put themselves in the driving seat to qualify from Group B.

And, no matter what happens in Thursday’s Battle of Britain against England, the Euros adventure could be extended beyond the group stages in France.

Wales had not scored a goal at a major tournament since Tottenham’s Terry Medwin netted to beat Hungary to a place in the quarter-finals of the 1958 World Cup in Sweden.

And inevitably it was Bale, another former Spurs star, who broke the deadlock in the 10th minute.

Jonny Williams – picked in an attacking role ahead of strikers Sam Vokes and Robson-Kanu – won a free-kick 25 yards from goal.

And Bale did what he’s done countless times before, unleashing a trademark ‘knuckleball’ free-kick that deceived Slovakian goalkeeper Matus Kozacik before arcing into the far corner of the net.

The scenes of celebration in the stands were a sight to behold as a sea of red shirts became a seething mass of bodies jumping for joy.

And on the pitch Bale raced to the bench, followed by the whole team, and he was engulfed by everyone – echoing the scenes after his crucial winner in Cyprus in the qualifying campaign.

It was the goal that the nation had prayed for and a goal that the team desperately needed after surviving a big scare in only the third minute of the match.

Slovakian dangerman Marek Hamsik turned on the style from the off and took out half the Welsh defence with a series of feints and side-steps.

Ashley Williams and Chris Gunter dived in rashly and were left for dead, while James Chester was also beaten.

Ward, deputising for the injured Wayne Hennessey in goal, rushed out to try to block the shot but Hamsik fired past the Liverpool rookie.

It was only the swift thinking and superb reactions of Ben Davies that prevented the worst possible start for Wales as the Spurs defender blocked brilliantly on the line.

It was a heart in the mouth moment in front of the 24,000 Wales fans and an anxious one for 22-year-old Ward, who was making his first start after just two 45-minute appearances as a substitute beforehand.

Hennessey, who was forced to watch from the sidelines because of a back spasm, had played in all 10 qualifiers and conceded just four goals.

And Wales certainly missed his authority at the back throughout.

But, even though Slovakia enjoyed more of the ball in the first half, Ward had little to do after the opening skirmishes.

After Bale’s goal Wales grew in confidence and it was the men in red who created the better chances.

And Jonny Williams should have won a penalty late in the first period when he appeared to take an elbow to the jaw from Martin Skrtel.

The Liverpool defender could easily have been sent off for that challenge as well but Wales and their fans were more than happy to go in 1-0 up at the break.

But Wales were pegged back on 61 minutes when substitute Ondrej Duda scored with his first touch.

Robert Mak got away from Aaron Ramsey and David Edwards and squared for Duda.

Ashley Williams was wrong-footed and the Slovakian found the bottom corner with ease to break the Welsh resistance.

It appeared as if both sides would have to settle for a point before Ramsey’s nudged the ball to Robson-Kanu at full stretch and his mis-hit found the back of the net on 81 minutes to win it for Wales.

The party has well and truly started and the Welsh don’t want to go home any time soon.

Wales: Ward, Taylor, Davies, A. Williams, Chester, Gunter, Edwards (Ledley, 69), Allen, Ramsey (Richards, 90), J. Williams (Robson-Kanu, 71), Bale

Slovakia: Kozacik, Pekarik, Skrtel, Durica, Weiss (Stoch, 83), Hrosovsky (Duda, 60), Hamsik, Svento, Kucka, Mak, Duris (Nemec, 60)

Booked: Skrtel, Kucka, Hrosovsky, Mak, Weiss

Referee: Svein Oddvar Moen (Norway)

Argus star man: Joe Allen

South Wales Argus: