Wales 3-1 Belgium
Wales came from a goal behind to defeat Belgium tonight in Lille to secure their place in the semi-finals of EURO 2016. Radja Nainggolan had given Belgium the lead but an Ashley Williams header saw the sides level at the break. A second half masterclass saw Hal Robson-Kanu put Wales ahead before substitute Sam Vokes put them out of sight and into the semi-finals.
Belgium began the better as they attacked from the kickoff. They should have been ahead with seven minutes played when Romelu Lukaku’s cross was controlled by Yannick Ferreira Carrasco but his shot was saved by Wayne Hennessey before Neil Taylor blocked Thomas Meunier’s follow-up effort and Ashley Williams and Ben Davies combined to stop Eden Hazard scoring.From Kevin De Bruyne’s subsequent corner, Lukaku was too slow to react and poke a simple chance into the net from inside the six-yard box. The deadlock was broken on 13 minutes when Hazard provided Nainggolan with the ball. The Roma midfielder had plenty of space to smash the ball into the top corner despite Hennessey’s sprawling attempt to stop it.
Wales should have equalised on 26 minutes when Aaron Ramsey cut the ball back to Taylor on the edge of the six-yard box but he was denied by a fantastic diving save from Thibaut Courtois when he looked certain to score.However the leveler arrived five minutes later when Ashley Williams inexplicably found himself unmarked to head home Aaron Ramsey’s corner with De Bruyne failing to clear on the line. Gareth Bale’s near-post run had perhaps distracted the Belgian markers – and moments later Wales’ star man was on the attack again, but failed to beat Courtois after breaking from the half-way line. Ashley Williams almost repeated his goalscoring exploits, heading over from a corner after Ramsey’s strike had deflected wide, as a thrilling first-half ended level.
Belgium looked the most likely scorers immediately after the break with Romelu Lukaku flicking a golden headed chance wide, De Bruyne hitting a hopeful effort above Hennessey’s crossbar and Hazard cutting in and curling a shot across the face of goal and wide.But it was Wales who moved ahead in sensational fashion. Bale’s long pass found Ramsey inside the area and he played in Robson-Kanu with his back to goal under close attention from Meunier and substitute Marouane Fellaini. The striker pulled off a Cryuff turn to bamboozle his markers before smashing the ball past Courtois.
Belgium began to commit numbers forward as they searched for an equaliser. Marouane Fellaini missed their best chance when he headed wide from six yards out. Not everything went Wales’ way tonight as Aaron Ramsey and Ben Davis both picked up yellow cards meaning they will miss the semi-final.Davies might have seen red when tripping Romelu Lukaku on the edge of the area and Belgium were furious with the officials when Williams appeared to foul Nainggolan in the area with seven minutes to play. Wales held on and put the icing on the cake when substitute Vokes rose to head home Chris Gunter’s cross in the 85th minute.
This result sees Wales face Portugal in the first semi-final on Wednesday night but Belgian Manager Marc Wilmots will be in hot water as once again the nations ‘Golden Generation’ has failed to deliver on the big stage.
Man of the Match – Hal Robson-Kanu (Wales)
- Andy King replaces Joe Ledley 78 mins
- Sam Vokes replaces Hal Robson-Kanu 80 mins
- James Collins replaces Aaron Ramsey 90+ mins
- Marouane Fellaini replaces Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco 46 mins
- Dries Mertens replaces Jordan Lukaku 75 mins
- Michy Batshuayi Romelu Lukaku 83 mins
Wales – Ben Davies,James Chester,Chris Gunter,Aaron Ramsey.
Belgium – Marouane Fellaini,Toby Alderweireld.