Wales reach Euro 2016 quarters, beat Northern Ireland 1-0 in tense encounter

  • AP, Paris
  • Updated: Jun 25, 2016 23:54 IST
Wales' Gareth Bale celebrates after the game. (Reuters Photo)

Gareth Bale was the creator of the only goal — an own-goal — to put Wales into the European Championship quarterfinals with a 1-0 win over Northern Ireland on Saturday.

Bale’s cross was aimed at teammate Hal Robson-Kanu but it was inadvertently tipped into the net by Northern Ireland defender Gareth McAuley in the 75th minute.

The only goal threat by the Welsh before the slightly fortuitous breakthrough came from a free kick from Bale, the tournament’s co-leading scorer with three goals.

In a drab British derby, it was the Northern Irish looking more dangerous in front of goal at the Parc des Princes in the first half of their first major tournament since the 1986 World Cup.

For full coverage: Euro 2016: McAuley own goal gives Wales 1-0 win over Northern Ireland

But Wales was more dangerous after the break and will next play either Hungary or Belgium in the quarterfinals in Lille on Friday. It will be the first time Wales will contest a quarterfinal match since the 1958 World Cup, its last appearance at a major tournament.

Two days after Britain voted to leave the European Union, this was a very British occasion at the heart of Europe. The referee was also English — Martin Atkinson — and the Parc des Princes field was groomed by a Northern Irish groundsman.

It was not a game suited to European soccer’s biggest stage, however. The teams looked like the first-time European finalists they are, with little quality in a cagey encounter.

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