Wales produced a stunning turnaround to end Belgium’s bid for Euro 2016 glory with a thrilling 3-1 win at Stade Pierre-Mauroy.
A moment of brilliance from Hal Robson-Kanu and Sam Vokes’ late header sealed Wales’ place in a first major tournament semi-final as they came from behind to beat Belgium 3-1 at Euro 2016.
Friday’s contest marked Wales’ first quarter-final in 58 years, their other run to the last eight coming in the country’s only previous appearance at a senior international competition, the 1958 World Cup in Sweden.
But just 13 minutes in Chris Coleman’s side were given a mountain to climb against the world’s second-ranked nation as a fierce long-range strike from Radja Nainggolan put Belgium ahead.
Wales’ reply was magnificent and a deserved leveller came courtesy of captain Ashley Williams, who capitalised on some poor defending to restore parity.
Belgium appeared set to take command of an enthralling contest once more after starting the second half on the front foot, only for Robson-Kanu to evade three players with a marvellous turn and make it 2-1 in confident fashion.
Aaron Ramsey was then booked – meaning the instrumental Arsenal midfielder will miss the semi-final against Portugal, which Vokes made absolutely sure of progressing to with a fantastic near-post header from Chris Gunter’s cross.
Only some heroic defending prevented Wales from falling behind in the seventh minute as Belgium went agonisingly close to opening the scoring on three occasions.
First Yannick Carrasco was thwarted by a fine close-range save from Wayne Hennessey following excellent work down the right from Kevin De Bruyne, with Thomas Meunier’s follow-up blocked by Neil Taylor before Eden Hazard saw his effort deflected over.
Romelu Lukaku was unable to connect with the subsequent corner from De Bruyne and Belgium were fortunate not to see his profligacy punished as Robson-Kanu headed over a Taylor cross and Gareth Bale lashed into the side-netting following a trademark surge down the left.
But Belgium were rewarded for a strong start in remarkable fashion through Nainggolan.
The Roma midfielder was afforded too much space as he picked the ball up 30 yards from goal and unleashed a vicious strike that Hennessey could not keep out, despite getting a hand to it.
Wales responded well and Belgium were grateful to the reflexes of Thibaut Courtois for preserving the lead, the Chelsea goalkeeper somehow keeping out Taylor’s low drive after the left-back had been picked out in the box by Ramsey.
Belgium did not pay for their poor marking on that occasion, but Williams took advantage of more questionable defending on the half-hour mark.
The skipper was left unmarked and met Ramsey’s corner with a downward header into the bottom-right corner.
Belgium began the second 45 in the ascendancy as Lukaku missed a gilt-edged chance by heading a Meunier cross wide and De Bruyne and Hazard both went close with curling efforts.
However, Wales completed the turnaround 10 minutes after the restart, Robson-Kanu displaying excellent composure to fire them in front.
He latched onto a superb right-wing cross from Ramsey and then produced a moment of magic before coolly slotting beyond Courtois.
Marouane Fellaini headed wide from the edge of the six-yard box and Nainggolan saw a penalty claim waved away, but it was Vokes who had the final say five minutes from time to stunningly knock out one of the heavy pre-tournament favourites.
RipplesNigeria …without borders, without fears
Join the conversation
Join the conversation
INVESTIGATION… How herdsmen crisis compounds woes of already deprived Ogun communities
Earlier in January, the Nigerian media space was awash with reports of violence between herders and farmers across the country....
Investigation… Inside Enugu markets where traders are choked by multiple taxes
In recent times, the world economy has developed tremendously and this is partly linked with activities of petty traders who...
SPECIAL REPORT: How flood-ravaged farmlands in Anambra threaten food production
Increased rainfall, as a result of climate change, has impacted negatively on many parts of the world. In Anambra State,...
INVESTIGATION… How NDDC spent N2bn on abandoned, non-existent road projects in Edo communities
In 2014, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) awarded 10 road projects worth over N2 billion in various communities in...
INVESTIGATION… Inside NDDC’s abandoned, poorly executed road projects dotting Abia communities (concluded)
In this concluding part, ARINZE CHIJIOKE discovers that apart from the Obohia-Ohuru-Aba Road, there are similar projects initiated by the NDDC in Abia State which...
PSG end Bayern Munich reign, Chelsea survive Porto scare in UCL
French giants, Paris Saint Germain on Tuesday night eliminated the defending champion Bayern Munich from this season’s UEFA Champions League...
Team Ogun attacks officials after unexpected defeat at Sports festival
In what looked like planned violence, supporters, officials, and boxers of Team Ogun went berserk after a decision went against...
Sports Minister charges federations to ‘think outside the box’ to attract sponsors
The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, has stressed the need for the various federations to think outside...
Man United end Tottenham top four hope in bruising encounter
Manchester United secured a come from behind 3-1 victory over Tottenham Hotspur in the English Premier League game played in...
In-form Iheanacho scores brace as Nigerians shine in Europe
Nigerians were in blistering form for their various European clubs at the weekend with the quintet of Kelechi Iheanacho, Simeon...
Latest Tech News
Nigeria’s ScholarX partners Airtel on new product. 2 other things and a trivia
This line-up of stories will help you discover the latest happenings around the tech world, today. 1. Nigeria’s ScholarX partners...
Twitter to open first African office in Ghana
Twitter has picked Ghana as location for its office in Africa. The company disclosed this in a brief statement on...
Kenyan fintech, Tanda, closes funding to expand portfolio. 2 other things and a trivia
This line-up of stories will help you discover the latest happenings around the tech world, today. 1. Kenyan fintech Tanda...
P+ rolls out media intelligence solution for PR measurement
P+ Measurement Services, a Nigerian Independent Public Relations (PR) measurement and evaluation agency, has introduced “Get-Reports” a product that allows...
TechNigeria: A weekly digest of what went down in Nigeria’s tech space
Nigerian tech players continue to prove to the world the smartness in their vision to take on the world, winning...
Nigeria’s ScholarX among GSMA £250,000 grant winners. 2 other things and a trivia
This line-up of stories will help you discover the latest happenings around the tech world, today. 1. Nigeria’s ScholarX features...