Wales Beat Star Studded Belgium 3-1, Set Up Semi-Final Clash With Portugal
Wales, competing at a major soccer tournament for the first time in 58 years, continued making history here on Friday, roaring into the Euro 2016 semis by rallying to stun Belgium 3-1 in the quarters.
The Red Dragons conceded an early goal in the 13th minute when Belgium’s Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan took aim from 30 yards out and thumped a wonderful effort into the top-left corner.
Ashley Williams, Wales’s central back and captain, equalized 1- 1 in the 30th minute when he steered a low header inside the right-hand post.
Wales forward Robson Kanu made it 2-1 in the 55th minute when Aaron Ramsey broke down the right brilliantly, finding Kanu in the box. With a deft Cruyff turn, the former Reading striker turned inside, beating both Belgium defenders Jason Denayer and Thomas Meunier, and slotting a low finish beyond keeper Thibaut Courtois’ grasp.
Kanu was voted as the Man of the Match.
As Belgium pressed hard for a leveller, Wales sealed the win with Burnley striker Sam Vokes’ glancing header in the 85th minute when Chris Gunter broke down the right and curled a pinpoint cross in from a wide area. Vokes, who just came from the bench for 3 minutes, glanced it on its way across the despairing Courtois, finding the inside of the far post.
The statistics indicated an equal and tight duel between the two. Wales made 15 attempts, 7 on target, 48 percent ball possession and 87 percent of passing accuracy. Belgium tried 14 shots, 4 on target, and the passing accuracy was 88 percent.
Wales made one change from the team that defeated Northern Ireland 1-0 in Round of 16, with Kanu being brought into the front two alongside Gareth Bale. Vokes dropped to the bench as a result. James Chester, Ashley Williams and Ben Davies make up the customary back three, with Joe Ledley once again in the engine room.
Belgium saw Jordan Lukaku starting at left back, with the Belgian coach Chris Coleman having no option but to also name young Jason Denayer alongside Toby Alderweireld in defence. Thomas Vermaelen was out through suspension, while Jan Vertonghen missed out due to an ankle injury in training. Yannick Carrasco came in on the right, with Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard in support of lone striker Romelu Lukaku.
Belgium’s big names dominated the game at the beginning. And the 7th and 8th minute witnessed a chaos in front of Wales’ goal where Belgians made three consecutive shots in the box, all on target but blocked.
Since Belgium took the 1-0 lead, they played cautiously but failed to mark Wales’ threatening troika — Bale, Ramsey and Joe Allen.
When Belgium lagged behind, they played all out to lay siege to Wales’ goal but squandered too many chances.