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Wales wins all-British clash to reach last eight of Euro 2016

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Gareth Bale (left) and midfielder Aaron Ramsey celebrate after an own goal by Northern Ireland's defender Gareth McAuley put their side ahead at the Parc des Princes.
PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images
Gareth Bale (left) and midfielder Aaron Ramsey celebrate after an own goal by Northern Ireland's defender Gareth McAuley put their side ahead at the Parc des Princes.

Story highlights

Wales into Euro 2016 last eight

Beats Northern Ireland 1-0

First time in history for Wales

Gareth Bale sets up winning goal

CNN —  

Gareth Bale-inspired Wales won the all-British battle of the minnows to reach the quarterfinals of the European Championships for the first time in its history.

An 75th minute own goal from Northern Ireland defender Gareth McAuley as he stretched to intercept a cross from Bale settled a match of few clear cut chances in the Parc des Princes in Paris.

Wales had gone through to the knockout stages after surprisingly topping a group which included England, but has emerged as an unlikely contender to win Euro 2016, led by Real Madrid’s Bale and a solid supporting cast.

“Fantastic achievement, unbelievable support,” manager Chris Coleman said after the narrow victory.

Northern Ireland, which had gone through as one of the best third-placed teams, made life difficult for the Welsh and carved out the best opportunity of a tepid first half in Paris through a Stuart Dallas shot.

But after the break, and particularly after the introduction of substitute Jonny Williams, the Welsh dragon started to breath a little more fire and Bale, previously well shackled by the Northern Irish defense, forced a fine save from Michael McGovern from a free kick.

Read: Poland first team into quarterfinals

Soon afterwards, the excellent Aaron Ramsey found Bale with space on the left and his whipped delivery would have been turned in by substitute Hal Robson-Kanu but for McAuley getting a boot to it and diverting the ball past McGovern.

It was another crucial intervention by Bale, who is top scorer in the competition with three goals in three previous games and it takes Wales into a quarterfinal against either Belgium or Hungary.

Bale admitted that Michael O’Neill’s well organized team had made it hard for Wales.

“What can I say? We knew it was going to be an ugly match,” Bale said.

“Northern Ireland made it difficult to play. There was not much space up front. You can’t ask for anymore. It’s incredible,” he said,

“It’s devastating. We were the better team on the day,” O’Neill said. “I couldn’t ask anything more of the players throughout the tournament.”

Read more: Full Euro 2016 coverage

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Despondent Northern Ireland face up to brave defeat in the Parc des Princes.
Matthias Hangst/Getty Images
Despondent Northern Ireland face up to brave defeat in the Parc des Princes.
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