Euro 2016: Wales Nets Quarter-Final Place
- Author: Rosalie Stanley Jun 26, 2016,
Jun 26, 2016, 0:52
The forward whipped in a cross in the 75th minute that was aimed at teammate Hal Robson-Kanu, but it was inadvertently turned into the net by Northern Ireland defender Gareth McAuley.
The world's most expensive player, Gareth Bale of Wales, will face an ageing goalkeeper looking in Saturday's intriguing all-British showdown against fellow debutants Northern Ireland for a place in the quarter-finals of Euro 2016.
Coleman accepted that his team did not perform as well as in their 3-0 win over Russian Federation in the group stage, crediting Northern Ireland for making it hard for Wales and praising Bale for making the difference. "We knew up top we weren't going to get a lot of the ball".
Wales will now take on the winners of the Hungary-Belgium tie on Friday night in Lille.
Northern Ireland challenged Gareth Bale, but Wales prevailed in the end. We showed a lot of heart, a lot of courage.
There was little to split the teams in a tetchy opener with Northern Ireland doing well to close down Wales' full-backs and limit the space for Bale.
It was the only goal of the game, and Bale said he knew it would be enough for Wales to secure their first-ever win in a knockout stage at a major tournament.
"I thought we didn't really play well at all today".
But it was a rare foray into the Northern Irish penalty area, with O'Neill's team going close with a 30 yard effort from Norwood before the Reading midfielder conceded a free-kick 25 yards from goal with a clumsy foul on Bale. "That wasn't our fault, it was credit to Northern Ireland who did what they do very well - make it very hard for the opponents". "We were the better team on the day. the nature of that goal". I'd rather be standing here in the quarter-final not playing at our best.
There was a moment of worry for Wales when namesakes Ashley and Jonny Williams collided heavily, the former continuing despite apparent damage to his left arm.
A gracious Coleman paid tribute to Wales' opponents after the game and was relieved to come away with the win that continues their dream tournament.
"They'll be disappointed but they've done brilliantly in the tournament".