Wales opened their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Slovakia in Cardiff.
Daniel James was the hero on his first competitive Wales start, rifling home in the fifth minute to send a sell-out Cardiff City Stadium crowd into raptures.
The Swansea winger’s only previous international experience was a 56-minute run-out in the November friendly defeat to Albania.
The last meeting between the two nations saw Wales win an emotionally-charged Euro 2016 opener in Bordeaux on their way to reaching the semi-finals in France.
But this was very much about the present, and the future, as Wales manager Ryan Giggs named a fresh-faced side with seven players having under 10 caps.
Giggs said that he would be judged on the European Championship campaign after 14 months in the job and he placed his faith in the new generation of emerging Welsh talent.
Giggs named an entirely different side from that which had beaten Trinidad and Tobago in a Wrexham friendly on Wednesday.
Slovakia, by contrast, started with the same team that had beaten Hungary 2-0 in their European Championship opener less than 72 hours earlier in Trnava.
Wales had a dream start when Harry Wilson and David Brooks launched a swift raid into Slovakian territory.
The move looked as if it had broken down, but Pekarik dithered and James nipped in to seize the ball back and beat a startled Dubravka with a low shot.
Brooks shot into the side-netting before Slovakia enjoyed their best passage of play midway through the half.
But Wayne Hennessey was untroubled in the Wales goal and Brooks went close to doubling the lead after 32 minutes.
The Bournemouth forward tricked his way past David Hancko and Robert Mak to curl his effort just past the far post.
Bale sent two half-chances wide as the first period came to a close and his header brought an athletic save from Dubravka just after the break.
The opening appeared to galvanise Slovakia and Hennessey had to react well from Ondrej Duda after Marek Hamsik had cleverly threaded a ball through to the striker.
Wales should have had a two-goal cushion when James’ pace was too much for Pekarik, but Wilson side-footed wide with the goal at his mercy.
James left to a huge ovation as Williams came on and Wales reorganised to a three-man central defence for the final 20 minutes of what had become an increasingly anxious occasion.
Hennessey had to make a smart save from substitute Michal Duris and Pekarik headed into the side-netting before Wales could celebrate their winning start.