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Wales reached the quarter-finals of Euro 2016 as Gareth McAuley’s own goal gave them victory over Northern Ireland in a tense second-round encounter.
Northern Ireland shackled their opponents with a resolute defensive display and mustered the only two shots on target in a goalless first half.
However, their resistance came to a cruel end when veteran centre-back McAuley turned Gareth Bale’s low, whipped cross into his own net.
Playing in their first major tournament since the 1958 World Cup, Wales will now face Belgium or Hungary in the last eight in Lille on Friday.
That was the stage at which they were knocked out 58 years ago and, although Chris Coleman’s side were blunted by their dogged opponents, the scrappy nature of victory and the winning goal will matter little to their jubilant fans.
For Northern Ireland, the manner of defeat was galling, particularly for the 63-cap McAuley, who had scored in the 2-0 group win against Ukraine, which had helped his country reach the second round.
Northern Ireland hold firm
Both sides were playing a first match in the knockout stages of a major tournament since each were beaten in the 1958 World Cup quarter-finals.
Parc des Princes was awash with green and red as fans mingled and revelled in the enormity of the occasion – but the match failed to ignite during a cagey first half.
Northern Ireland’s intention to frustrate their opponents was clear, depriving Wales of space with a careful pressing game held together by rigid positional discipline.
They also posed a counter-attacking threat, with one early break leading to a chance for Stuart Dallas, whose shot was saved by Wayne Hennessey.
Bale delivers again
Having beaten Russia so impressively in their final group game, Wales seemed neutered by Northern Ireland’s containing strategy.
Coleman’s men had struggled for goals during qualifying – scoring 11 in 10 matches – and …read more
Source:: BBC UK