Euro 2016: Wales edge Northern Ireland for QF spot

Embed from Getty Images

 By Jake Davies

  • Wales progress to the Quarter Finals of Euro 2016 following a 1-0 win over Northern Ireland
  • Northern Ireland put up a good fight in their first ever European Championships campaign

PARC DES PRINCES, FRANCE – Wales advance to the Quarter Finals for the first time since the 1958 World Cup by beating Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland were the better team for large periods of this Last-16 encounter. Despite having the better chances, Wales made the most of the limited opportunities they were given late into the second half – having only had one shot on target the whole match.

Chris Coleman’s men played their usual style of football, playing to their strengths and utilised their star player Gareth Bale when the opening arose. The determined, committed Northern Ireland team eventually broke down after seventy-five minutes of resistance when a low cross from Bale was drilled into the Northern Ireland net by centre-back Gareth McAuley.

Bale has demonstrated in the qualifying campaign and now in the major European competition that he is a man for the big occasion. This was the first game of Euro 2016 where he did not get on the scoresheet, but he has now played a significant role in one of the most successful periods in Welsh footballing history.

The 26-year-old’s testing free kick minutes earlier was his only real attempt at goal, as Northern Ireland kept him contained for large portions of the match. One of the best chances on the counter attack for Northern Ireland came through Stuart Dallas – his effort was thwarted out by Welsh goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey.

Frustration started to settle in for the manager and players alike as Wales tried their best to run the clock down in order to preserve the historic 1-0 victory in the Parc des Princes.

Wales will now face Belgium or Hungary in the quarter final stage of the competition. They look to seal a semi-final spot at an international competition for the first time in the nation’s history.