Northern Ireland defender Gareth McAuley steered Gareth Bale’s excellent cross into his own net to settle this all-British affair in Paris .
An own goal by the unfortunate Gareth McAuley sent Wales into their first UEFA European Championship quarter-final, finishing Northern Ireland’s hugely entertaining stay in France.
It was never going to be easy putting out Will Grigg’s fire. In the end, though, a little bit of quality from Gareth Bale on the left did the trick after 75 minutes, the Real Madrid talisman’s teasing cross going in off the outstretched leg of McAuley.
Unlike in the previous three games, Bale couldn’t get on the scoresheet today, but claims the assist for McAuley’s own goal.(Picture Courtesy: UEFA)
Bale spoke during the week about matching, then surpassing, that distant Welsh achievement of reaching the quarter-finals at the 1958 FIFA World Cup in Sweden and leaving a legacy for the game in his home country.
Now they have a new reference point: Lille 2016, with Wales facing the winners of Hungary v Belgium in next Friday’s last-eight tie. For Northern Ireland, 34 years to the day since they defeated Spain at the World Cup, the journey has come to a close.
This corner of Paris had turned British long before kick-off, flags from Swansea and the village of Scarva fluttering beside the Seine. It was predictably tight during the first half, the combative Stuart Dallas and Jamie Ward both having efforts saved by Wayne Hennessey in the Welsh goal.
Wales had most of the ball but lacked the fluidity of their 3-0 win against Russia. Aaron Ramsey had one strike ruled out for a clear offside but Sam Vokes might have done better with a header after the break.
Vokes was soon withdrawn and Wales made amends. But McAuley, a goalscoring hero against Ukraine, deserved better.
Report courtesy to UEFA Euro Release