Wales into Euro 2016 quarters after NI own goal – report & highlights

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Wales reached the quarter-finals of Euro 2016 as Gareth McAuley’s own goal gave them victory over Northern Ireland in a tense last-16 encounter.

Northern Ireland shaded much of the game and largely snuffed out Wales’ attacking threat, but they also lacked a cutting edge in attack.

Wales only managed one shot on target and the game was settled by the one moment of real quality at Parc des Princes.

Northern Ireland’s resistance was finally broken when centre-back McAuley turned Gareth Bale’s low, whipped cross into his own net.

It means Wales – in their first major tournament finals since the 1958 World Cup – will face Belgium or Hungary in the last eight in Lille on Friday.

Chris Coleman’s side were blunted by their dogged opponents, but the scrappy nature of victory and the winning goal will matter little to their jubilant fans.

For Northern Ireland, the manner of defeat was galling, particularly for the 63-cap McAuley, who had scored in the 2-0 group win against Ukraine, which had helped his country reach the round of 16.

O’Neill’s men sturdy, but defeated

Both sides were playing a first match in the knockout stages of a major tournament since 1958, when they reached the World Cup quarter-finals.

Parc des Princes was awash with green and red as fans mingled and revelled in the enormity of the occasion – but the match failed to ignite during a cagey first half.

Northern Ireland’s intention to frustrate their opponents was clear, depriving Wales of space with a careful pressing game held together by rigid positional discipline.

They also posed a counter-attacking threat, with one early break leading to a chance for Stuart Dallas, whose shot was saved by Wayne Hennessey.

Bale's touches

Bale delivers – without scoring

Having beaten Russia so impressively in their final group game, Wales seemed neutered by Northern Ireland’s containing strategy.

Coleman’s men had struggled for goals during qualifying – scoring 11 in 10 matches – and this match demonstrated their occasional shortcomings against well-organised defences.

Bale saw one of his trademark dipping free-kicks saved by Michael McGovern but the Real Madrid forward’s threat in open play was subdued.

That was until the 75th minute, when he unleashed a fizzing ball across the six-yard box and the sliding McAuley deflected the ball into the net.

This was the first match of the competition in which Bale failed to score, but his major contribution to Wales’ winner was yet another example of the 26-year-old’s ability to rise to the biggest occasions.

O’Neill angered by Wales

Tempers boiled over as Northern Ireland chased a late equaliser, with manager Michael O’Neill furiously animated on the touchline as he accused Wales of time-wasting.

Ashley Williams and Jonny Williams both received treatment on the pitch after colliding into each other, with the former holding his arm afterwards in a way which he suggested he may have broken or fractured part of it.

There was a heated exchange between O’Neill and Williams, with the Northern Ireland boss later claiming Wales coaches on the bench had told their captain to sit on the pitch to waste time.

The Swansea City centre-back stayed on the field until the final whistle but, with his arm in a sling afterwards, he could be a doubt for Wales’ quarter-final on Friday.

Man of the match – James Chester

James Chester

What they said

Wales manager Chris Coleman on BBC One: “The good thing about these boys when we’re not playing well is that they have spirit. And at times we were hanging on.

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“I’d rather be standing here in the quarter-final not playing at our best. We have to give credit to Northern Ireland – they made it very difficult to play against. They were the better team.

“We have to plan for the next game whoever it is. We’ll enjoy this tonight.”

Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill on BBC One: “It’s devastating. We were the better team on the day.

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“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 stats you need to know

  • Wales have reached the quarter-finals as they did in their last major tournament (World Cup 1958).
  • Northern Ireland have won none of their past nine games against Wales (D4 L5).
  • Wales have lost only two of their nine games at major tournaments.
  • Northern Ireland scored an own goal for the first time since October 2011, which was also scored by Gareth McAuley (v Italy).
  • There have now been three own goals at Euro 2016, more than any previous European Championship finals.

What next?

Wales will wait to see who wins Sunday’s last-16 tie between Hungary and Belgium before facing the victor in Lille on Friday. Northern Ireland head home after a memorable tournament, which included a victory over Ukraine in the group stage.

Line-ups

Wales

  • 1Hennessey
  • 5Chester
  • 6Williams
  • 4Davies
  • 2Gunter
  • 7Allen
  • 16Ledley