Finishing on top of Group B wasn’t enough for Wales, so Gareth Bale and Co. decided that it’s time to create another surprise at Euro 2016, by defeating Northern Ireland and made it to the last eight of the competition.
However, it is worth mentioning that the only goal of the game was actually an own goal, from Northern Ireland’s Gareth McAuley. Even though the match was played at the Parc des Princes, a stadium used with beautiful games, none of the teams impressed. It was competitive, but it lacked any entertainment and chances, no matter if we’re talking about Wales or Northern Ireland.
Fifteen more minutes were needed to take the game into extra time, but Aaron Ramsey found Gareth Bale in space, the latter sending the ball into the box and McAuley unlucky touch sent the ball pass his own keeper.
“It’s devastating. We were the better team on the day…. the nature of that goal,” Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill said right after the game.”I couldn’t ask anything more of the players throughout the tournament. Gareth McAuley knows he has to make one of those decisions on the cross – he had to judge whether there was someone behind him or not.”
The atmosphere was way better in the Welsh camp, as manager Chris Coleman was delighted by his boys’ game.
“It’s amazing. First and foremost commiserations to Northern Ireland. We showed a lot of heart and courage. The good thing about these boys when we’re not playing well is that they have spirit. And at times we were hanging on. I’d rather be standing here in the quarter-final not playing at our best,” the manager said, according to BBC.
Coleman did praise the team they played against though, claiming that Northern Ireland was a tough adversary and admitting that they were the better team.
Wales will play against Belgium or Hungary, this Friday, in the quarter finals. Could they become Euro 2016’s biggest surprise?