Wales reach the Euro 2016 Quarter Finals

An own goal has handed Wales a 1-0 win and their first ever Quarter Finals birth at Euro 2016. 

In absolutely heartbreaking fashion, Gareth McAuley put the ball into the back of his own net after a deadly cross from Welsh superstar Gareth Bale.

In a game that only saw four shots on target in total, both teams struggled to produce any quality going forward.

Welsh fans were on their feet after Aaron Ramsey scored, only to realize the linesman had raised his flag for offside.

Northern Ireland looked to lone striker Kyle Lafferty as a target, who was used to hold the ball up and use his strength.

The Green and White Army struggled to keep their pressure consistent, giving Wales a sniff and a change in momentum.

Wales began to break through the disciplined and compact Northern Irish midfield and defensive line, as holes started to appear at the half’s end.

It was a lifeless first half which saw both sets of fans producing more quality than their players on the pitch.

Fans were calling for Will Grigg, who was still without any game-time in the tournament.

Roy Hodgson gave England fan favourite Jamie Vardy a chance against Wales and he made an instant impact scoring the equalizer. With only three attempts at goal surely coach Michael O’Neill had to bring on Grigg, who had scored 25 goals for Wigan last season.

Vokes had a chance early in the second half to put Wales up, but missed a point blank range header from Ramsey’s wicked curling ball into the box.

His night was over after the missed opportunity, as Wales coach Chris Coleman opted to bring on Hal Robson-Kanu who scored that crucial winner against Slovakia in the group stages.

Gareth Bale had a chance to put the Welsh in front in the 57th minute, hitting almost an identical free-kick to the one he scored against England. Northern Ireland goalkeeper Michael McGovern had done his homework and met the dipping free-kick to palm it out for a corner.

While the majority of players on both teams dropped off the later the game went, Bale did not, and became the game-breaker in the 75th minute.

With only 15 minutes remaining, Northern Ireland heartbreakingly conceded an own goal. Bale sent in a killer cross which was too powerful for Gareth McAuley, who put the ball into his own net.

As the game drew to a close, O’Neill chose to leave Grigg on the bench again which has caused uproar from fans all around the world.

Wales won the game 1-0 and progress to the Quarter Final of the European Championships for the first time in their history.

Their Quarter Final will be played on Friday 1st of July against either Hungary or Belgium in Lille.

How far can they go?

 

Ari Charilaou