Euro 2016: Wales edge past Northern Ireland 1-0 as McAuley own goal sends the Dragons through
The Welsh are through to the quarter-finals for the first time in their history
Wales became the second team to qualify for the quarter-finals of the Euros as they overcame a stubborn Northern Ireland side 1-0. Bale was not at his voracious best but an own goal from Gareth McAuley from Bale cross 15 minutes before time was enough to see them through to the next round.
Wales: Hennessey; Gunter, Chester, A. Williams, Davies, Taylor; Allen, Ledley, Ramsey; Bale, Vokes.
Northern Ireland: McGovern; Hughes, McAuley, Cathcart, J. Evans; C. Evans; Ward, Norwood, Davis, Dallas; Lafferty.
Bale fails to make a mark as Ireland more than hold their own
Wales came into this game with great momentum after their 3-0 demolition of Russia in their final group game and pipped rivals England to top their group. Northern Ireland squeezed into the round of 16 after finishing as one of the four best 3rd placed teams, definitely the underdogs in this fixture.
Bale and Ramsey once again would be the key men in attack. The Irish on the other hand, did have a worry in defence after the pummeling they received from Germany despite only conceding the single goal. But all form goes out the window in a derby
Ireland showed they meant business as they had the first real chance of the game. Stuart Dallas’s attempted drive was palmed away by Hennesey. Wales replied with an attack of their own. Bale played in a clever ball in the box as Ramsey tried to flick it on but he couldn’t get a touch and McGovern collected it with no trouble at all.
Jamie Ward was the next to try his luck as Ireland were really making a match of this. The Nottingham Forest winger let one rip from distance and it needed tipping over by Wayne Hennessey, as he just about got his finger tips to the ball.
Wales were actually struggling to create chances against a rugged and well organized Irish team. Michael O’Neal had done his homework.
Wales get helping hand from Ireland as own goal sends them through
Ireland once again took the initiative in the second half. Kyle Lafferty tried to bulldoze his way through to goal but tried to beat one too many defenders. They kept piling on the pressure as the Welsh struggled to keep them at bay.
But the Dragons showed the game-changing quality they possessed. Sam Vokes made a run into the box and Aaron Ramsey picked him out perfectly but unfortunately he headed his effort wide.That was his last contribution as Robson-Kanu replaced him for the remainder of the game.
Ireland had done well to restrict Bale in the first half but when they conceded a free kick the Real Madrid winger made no hesitation to make his way towards the ball. Once again his free kick was bang on target but McGiovern made a good save to his left after the wall was beaten.
After that bright start, the game started to descend into a cagey affair. Despite being labelled a derby the game had none of its exciting components. As the game entered the last quarter something had to give as Wales stepped on the gas.
In the 75th minute, Ramsey picked up the ball in the middle of the park and sent it wide to Bale. The forward drilled in a first-time cross into a dangerous area. West Brom defender Gareth McAuley slid in to prevent the cross from reaching Robson-Kanu but unfortunately deflected it past his own keeper to send Welsh fans into ecstasy.
As expected, Ireland became desperate and tried everything in the limited time that they had. But Bale and his team held on to progress into the last eight.