WAL 3:1 BEL – A true David and Goliath match up at the Stade Pierre Mauroy in Lille to determine who will meet Portugal in the first semi final of the tournament. Wales have been sensational so far under Chris Coleman‘s stewardship, but this was a real test against a Belgian side who have been exhilarating in the knockout stages. Early pressure from De Rode Duivels had The Dragons defending in numbers – Wayne Hennessey saving Yannick Carrasco‘s close range strike, with Neil Taylor and James Chester both throwing themselves in front of follow-up shots in a desperate scramble in the Welsh box. Moments later the Welsh were behind – Joe Allen‘s poor pass allowed the Belgians in down the left and when the ball was laid back to AS Roma‘s Radja Nainggolan, he thundered a stunning drive into the top corner, giving Hennessey no chance. Wales responded brilliantly. Good hold up play from Hal Robson-Kanu found Aaron Ramsey in the box and he squared for Neil Taylor, but the Swansea City Football Club wingback hit his powerful shot straight at Thibaut Courtois. Arsenal‘s Ramsey then whipped in the perfect corner, and Belgium’s much-changed back four failed to pick up Ashley Williams, the Welsh captain heading home unmarked from 6 yards to equalise. The Welsh were the better side for the rest of the half and they patiently kept the ball in the middle of the park. Real Madrid C.F. star Gareth Bale caused problems in front of the Belgian defence all night and after picking up a loose ball in his own half the forward then ran 50 yards, forcing a good stop from Courtois. Williams should have put the Welsh in front with another free header from a corner. Ramsey then beat two men with a lovely dummy and his cross found Robson-Kanu who tamely headed at Courtois. The Belgians were happy to get back in the changing rooms to regroup at the break. Amazing! A flurry of Belgian pressure early in the 2nd half saw Romelu Lukaku head a glorious chance wide before captain Eden Hazard cut in from the left and flashed a shot past Hennessey’s far post. Bale then dropped deep to play an extraordinary ball down the right for Ramsey, his pin-point cross found Robson-Kanu, who lost three players with a terrific Cruyff turn and side-footed the ball expertly past Courtois. The man without a club! Unbelievable! What a goal! The heavy Belgian pressure started to mount in the last 15 minutes as Marc Wilmots threw on Dries Mertens and Michy Batshuayi to find an equaliser. Hazard, brilliant against Hungary, was dreadfully poor tonight, his lack of class showing as he failed to knock the ball out of play as Bale lay injured beside him late on. Not one of the Wales players look tired. They were full of drive, energy and determination. And with minutes left, Reading F.C.‘s Chris Gunter (381 likes on Facebook) crossed the ball for Burnley Football Club‘s Sam Vokes (466 likes) to head superbly past Thibaut Courtois (5.4 million likes) – as good a header as you will see! Aaron Ramsey, who will tragically miss the semi final against Portugal after picking up another yellow card, was given a hero’s reception was he was withdrawn moments before the final whistle.
ASTONISHING!!! An incredible, historic achievement for Wales. Emotional stuff! #cryingforWales