Wales pulls off historic 3-1 victory over Belgium in Euro 2016 quarter-final
Wales has pulled off a shock victory over Belgium in their Euro 2016 quarter-final, winning 3-1 to set up a semi-final clash with Portugal.
#WAL pull off a huge shock to beat #BEL and reach the semi-finals! #WALBEL#EURO2016pic.twitter.com/DNGz2i6M9e— UEFA EURO 2016 (@UEFAEURO) July 1, 2016
Belgium took the lead in the 13th minute when Radja Nainggolan fired in a stunning strike from 25 yards out.
But Wales captain Ashley Williams equalized with a bullet header from a corner in the 31st minute.
Hal Robson-Kanu then gave them the lead with a smart finish on 55 minutes, when he received the ball with his back to goal in the Belgian penalty box, turned two defenders and swept the ball past goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois into the corner of the net.
Wales sealed the win five minutes from full-time when substitute Sam Vokes headed in a cross from Chris Gunter.
#WAL have never reached the semi-final of a major football tournament. Until tonight. 👏👏👏 #WALBEL#EURO2016pic.twitter.com/0XF1orOd7W— UEFA EURO 2016 (@UEFAEURO) July 1, 2016
Welsh fans went delirious in the crowd at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Lille, with their side now set to play in the semi-finals of a major tournament for the first time ever.
The Belgian side – the highest-ranked team in the tournament at #2 in the FIFA ratings – were widely fancied to progress, but faced a resilient Wales, who defended well and caused problems with fast counter-attacks and in particular corners by Arsenal man Aaron Ramsey.
Wales – inspired by Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale – had reached the quarter-final thanks to a narrow 1-0 win over Northern Ireland, after emerging through the group stage as winners of Group B, which included England, Russia and Slovakia.
Belgium had reached the last eight in style, seeing off Hungary 4-0, and a team including star players such as Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne appeared to be ready to fulfil its potential.
However, Welsh passion proved too strong as they secured a win that will go down as one of the greatest in the country’s sporting history.
Euro 2016 is shaping up to be a tournament known for its shocks, after Iceland – a nation of just 330,000 people – stunned England 2-1 in their last-16 tie on Monday.
The Icelanders will be hoping to beat host-nation France on Sunday and join Wales at the semi-final stage.
Italy plays world champions Germany in the other quarter-final tomorrow, with the winner of that game going on to play either Iceland or France.