Wales continued their fairytale run at Euro 2016, beating Northern Ireland 1-0 to make the last eight. Gareth McAuley turned Gareth Bale’s cross into his own net after 75 minutes to settle a scrappy contest.
The two British sides are appearing in the finals of a European Championships for the first time and Wales, who topped their group ahead of England, go through to face Belgium or Hungary.
The match at the Parc des Princes in Paris was billed as the ‘Brexit’ clash after Wales voted to leave the European Union in Thursday’s referendum and Northern Ireland opted, without success, to remain.
Wales looked a shadow of the side that thumped Russia 3-0 in their final group outing in an uninspiring first half and goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey had to make two saves while Northern Ireland counterpart Michael McGovern was not tested.
Wales talisman Bale had his first attempt on goal after 26 minutes but fluffed his shot and was roundly jeered by the Northern Irish fans.
Decisive Bale contribution
After the break, it was more of the same with neither side able to hold on to the ball for long or create clear scoring chances.
It was left to Bale to make another decisive contribution after the Real Madrid man, the world’s most expensive player, scored once in each of Wales’ group games.
Sent clear on the left by Aaron Ramsey, Bale whipped a superb cross into the danger area and the ball dribbled into the net off McAuley’s outstretched leg with Wales substitute Hal Robson-Kanu lurking.
Wales have equaled their best result at a major championships. They reached the quarterfinals of the 1958 World Cup, losing to eventual winners Brazil in their only appearance at football’s global showpiece.