Deadly Dragons sail into semi-finals

Wales' fairytale at Euro 2016 continued as they defeated tournament favorites Belgium 3-1 at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy on Friday night to advance to the semi-finals.

  • Wales 3 Belgium 1
  • Nainggolan opens the scoring
  • Williams heads Welsh level
  • Dragons go ahead through Robson-Kanu
  • Substitute Vokes secures historic win

Match Summary

Radja Nainggolan gave the Red Devils a perfect start when he broke the deadlock with a 35-yard thunderbolt but Chris Coleman's side fought back valiantly as captain Ashley Williams restored parity from a corner.

Hal Robson-Kanu then gave the Dragons the lead after the break and second-half substitute Sam Vokes headed home late on to secure a last-four berth against Portugal on July 6.

Full Report

The game started at a frenetic pace, as expected from two teams brimming with attacking flair. The sixth minute produced the first few clear-cut chances when Romelu Lukaku found himself in acres of space, but Wayne Hennessey did well to save from point-blank range, culminating in a goal-mouth scramble.

Moments later, however, Nainggolan produced a bit of absolute magic – worthy of the goal of the tournament. After being left completely unmarked from 35 yards out, he unleashed an unstoppable drive that flew past a flailing Hennessey.

Wales didn't look at their fluent best after going behind and seemed out of ideas, trying to be too intricate when a more direct approach would have given Marc Wilmots' men more problems, especially considering their inexperienced defence consisted of three players under the age of 24.

But Courtois was tested when he made a world-class save against the run of play, blocking Neil Taylor's shot from close range after Aaron Ramsey picked him out on the edge of the penalty area.

The chance seemed to have ignited the Dragons and skipper Williams found the equaliser soon after from a corner, powering home a header inside the near post.

Bale had a chance comfortably saved in the 33rd minute and the robust Robson-Kanu almost put away the last chance of the half when another surging run from Ramsey saw the midfielder pick out the former Reading man just inside the area. However, his tame header was comfortably saved by Courtois.

Lukaku and Eden Hazard had two great chances just after the break as the two star forwards came out with real intention and vigour but both went narrowly wide of goal.

They lived to rue those missed chances when Ramsey and Robson-Kanu combined for the second time, though unlike his first-half chance, this time the free agent was able to produce a famous Johan Cruyff turn to eliminate three Belgian defenders in the area and stroke the ball past Courtois.

Wales looked comfortable after taking the lead as their spirit and organisational quality outshone the most expensive squad in the European Championship.

And they were duly rewarded for their tireless running late on when Vokes put the result beyond all doubt with a thumping header from a inch-perfect Chris Gunter cross.

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