CARDIFF’S been the place to be if you’re a patriotic Welsh fan this week.

Eight days after Wales won rugby Six Nations’ Grand Slam with an outstanding performance against Ireland at The Principality Stadium, the atmosphere in the capital was just as electric down the road at The Cardiff City Stadium. While the display on the pitch didn’t come close to what Warren Gatland’s boys achieved, off the pitch Welsh football fans were at their brilliant best.

They backed Ryan Giggs’ side from start to finish in what turned out to be a nervy 1-0 win over Slovakia.

With support like that, Wales have got a chance of making sure the Euro 2016 finals in France weren’t a one-off.

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 has established a growing reputation in the Championship this season, and he robbed Slovakia right-back Peter Pekarik on the edge of the area before drilling a shot past the Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka.

Wales goalscorer James: “It was a good start after we got that early goal. From then on, we had to dig in. The only thing I had in my head was to shoot and luckily it went in.

“In the second half they had a lot of the ball but we got the win in the end.”

Gareth Bale, who was handed the captain’s armband by boss Ryan Giggs, added: “Everyone put in a shift today. It’s what we are used to. The minimum requirement is to put in 110 per cent and everyone did that.

“We built our success off a good solid defence. We work hard in units. We always knew we could nick a goal. In the second half we came under a lot of pressure but we started the game well, got the early goal, then shut up shop and we know how to do that.

“We have given the fans another win and it was a good start to the qualifying campaign. We need to keep that going.”

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 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.

Bale took over the captaincy as veteran defender Ashley Williams dropped to the bench and James Lawrence, who spent four years in Slovakian football before moving to Anderlecht, made his first competitive start.

Giggs named an entirely different side from that which had beaten Trinidad and Tobago in a in front of a 10,000-plus crown at Wrexham’s Racecourse Ground 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.

Giggs was happy with the display and said: “I tried to play it down because I knew other teams played first but you do feel the pressure. There were so many outstanding performances and we dug in at the end to get that clean sheet.

“In the first half we showed real composure. We rode our luck a little bit in the second half and I thought we could have scored a few more in the first but some of the play was fantastic, paired with great determination.

“We have got a great group of older players and younger players. I wanted clean sheets. We have got a lot of talent in the squad too so we will always create chances.”

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.

Wales should have had a two-goal cushion when James’ pace was too much for Pekarik, but Wrexham-born 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.

Hennessey had to make a smart save from substitute Michal Duris and Pekarik headed into the side-netting before Wales could finally celebrate a winning start.