Date: 25th June 2016 at 6:30pm
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Wales won the Battle of Britain in the Euro 2016 last 16 as they beat Northern Ireland 1-0 in Paris to progress to the quarter-finals.

A Gareth McAuley own goal proved to be the difference in the second-half when he turned in a low Gareth Bale cross to make Wales’ first-ever European Championships last that little bit longer.

Wales were unchanged from the side that beat Russia 3-0, whilst Michael O’Neill’s side made one change from their 1-0 defeat to Germany with Kyle Lafferty replacing Conor Washington.

Photo: Marc Atkins / Offside.

McAuley’s own goal provided very costly – Photo: Marc Atkins / Offside.

It was a cagey start from both teams with Northern Ireland happy to concede possession and sit deep. However it was the Irish who had the first chance, with a counter-attack that saw Stuart Dallas have a shot saved by Wayne Hennessey.

The Crystal Palace keeper was called into action later in the half when he had to tip over a Jamie Ward effort.

The Welsh had their first spark 18 minutes into the game when Sam Vokes’ knock-down was poked into the net by Aaron Ramsey, but the Arsenal man was correctly ruled offside. Bale struggled to find a way into the game and could only muster a tame shot midway through the half.

The second-half was slightly brighter for the Welsh as Ramsey whipped in a wonderful cross for Vokes, who put a free header wide.

Bale was later presented with a trademark free-kick opportunity that forced an excellent save out of Michael McGovern.

Wales were the ones to break the deadlock with just 15 minutes remaining, as Bale finally found some space down the left-hand side and whipped in a devastating low cross that centre-half McAuley could only turn into his own net.

Despite late pressure Chris Coleman’s side held on to take their place in the last-eight and send the Northern Irish home after a valiant tournament of their own, where they will now face the winner of Hungary-Belgium.

Photo: Mark Leech

Wales’ Ramsey (Right) had the ball in the back of the net, but he was correctly ruled out for offside – Photo: Mark Leech / Offside.

Man of the Match: James Chester (Wales)

The West Brom defender has had a solid tournament and perhaps had his most impressive performance yet against Northern Ireland.

Two challenges on Lafferty in the second-half summed up his performance, timed to perfection and stopping dangerous attacks as well as showing great composure on the ball to get Wales going forward.

What’s Next?

Wales will face the winner of Hungary-Belgium in Lille on Friday at 8pm. Belgium are familiar counterparts to Wales who they have played in their last two qualifying campaigns, so will fancy their chances against either side of making this historic tournament even more so.

 
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