EURO 2016: Wales shock Belgium, advance to first-ever semifinal
After 58 years of major tournament-less football, Wales are through to the semifinals of EURO 2016, set to face off against Portugal for a place in the final, after coming from behind and knocking off Belgium’s golden generation in the quarterfinals, 3-1 Monday in Lille.
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Ashley Williams, Hal Robson-Kanu and Sam Vokes scored 25 minutes apart, either side of halftime, to cancel out Radja Nainggolan’s stunning opener and send the Dragons to the semifinals of a major tournament for the first time ever.
The goal-line scramble of all goal-line scrambles saw Belgium denied not once, not twice, but three times in a matter of seconds in the 7th minute. Three goal-line clearances= saw chance after chance after chance denied in quick succession and the score remain 0-0.
The Red Devils continued to pour numbers forward and threaten for an opener. In the 13th minute, it arrive in the form of a goal of the tournament candidate lashed into the back of the net by Nainggolan. As they say, that ball stayed hit.
Wales equalized right on the half-hour mark, as Williams, who was expected to miss the quarterfinal clash after injuring his should in the round of 16 triumph over Northern Ireland, headed home from Aaron Ramsey’s out-swinging corner kick.
Ramsey had himself quite a game, setting up Williams’ equalizer before doing the same for Robson-Kanu’s winner in the 55th minute. The cross from out wide was, of course, important to find Robson-Kanu at the penalty spot, but the turn in traffic to open the entire goalmouth was truly brilliant from a player currently without a club contract.
Vokes made it 3-1 with a simple header from Chris Gunter’s cross, putting the result beyond doubt and sending all of Wales, from Cardiff to Wrexham, into ultimate party mode until the nerves set in ahead of Wednesday’s semifinal.
And they said Wales were a one-man team. Victory in the quarterfinals, all without a goal or assist from Gareth Bale.