Five reasons why Wales triumphed, Belgium faltered in Euro quarterfinal
Wales qualified for their first ever major tournament semi-final in their debut at the European Championship by coming from behind to beat Belgium 3-1 in Lille on Friday.euro 2016 Updated: Jul 02, 2016 08:07 IST
Wales qualified for their first ever major tournament semi-final in their debut at the European Championship by coming from behind to beat Belgium 3-1 in Lille on Friday.
A mouthwatering semifinal meeting with Portugal will see Welsh star Gareth Bale go up against his Real Madrid teammate Cristiano Ronaldo.
Here are five reasons Belgium failed and Wales triumphed:
Wales show they are more than Bale
Belgium achieved their pre-match aim of keeping Real Madrid star Gareth Bale quiet, yet Chris Coleman’s men showed they are far from a one-man team with a rousing response from going behind to Radja Nainggolan’s early thunderbolt.
Captain Ashley Williams had been a major doubt due to a shoulder injury picked up in the 1-0 last 16 win over Northern Ireland. However, his determination to play through the pain barrier proved vital when he stooped to head home Aaron Ramsey’s corner.
Bale would have been proud of Hal Robson-Kanu’s sensational Cruyff turn and finish past Thibaut Courtois to put Wales 2-1 up.
And just six minutes after replacing Robson-Kanu, Sam Vokes powered home Chris Gunter’s cross to ensure a historic place in the last four.
Belgium lack killer touch
Despite having arguably the most talented array of attacking talent on show in France, Belgium were made to pay for their profligacy in front of goal as their dominance at the start of both halves went largely unrewarded.
Premier League stars Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard were wayward, whilst Manchester United’s Marouane Fellaini somehow missed the target with a header from point-blank range 16 minutes from time with the score at 2-1.
Ramsey will be badly missed
The one negative of a historic night for Wales was Ramsey’s second yellow card of the competition that will rule him out of the semifinal.
Ramsey’s importance can’t be overstated on the night. He set up Wales’ first two goals, adding to the goalscoring threat that saw him notch the opener in Wales’ 3-0 thrashing of Russia in the group stage.
Wilmots outcoached again
Belgium coached Marc Wilmots was lambasted by the press at home after the Red Devils’ opening 2-0 Group E defeat to Italy and can expect more of the same after blowing a huge chance to deliver Belgium’s first ever major international trophy.
Wales took four points off Belgium in qualifying and were once again the better organised side despite the disparity of talent on show as Belgium failed to break down the mass ranks of red-shirted defence and always looked susceptible to Wales’ threat at set-pieces and on the counter-attack.
Hazard failed to shine on Lille homecoming
Belgium captain Eden Hazard had threatened to take Euro 2016 by storm after his man-of-the-match display as Belgium blew away Hungary 4-0 in the last 16.
Hazard was also returning to the city where he made his name before Chelsea paid £32 million (38 million euros, $42.5 million) for the two-time Ligue 1 Player of the Year in 2012.
Yet, in keeping with his underperforming side, Hazard failed to shine under the thunderous rain in northern France as Wales’ tireless midfield never allowed him the space he craved to get his head up and drive towards goal.
First Published: Jul 02, 2016 08:06 IST