Bale sinks Belgium

2015-06-13 08:25
Gareth Bale in action for Wales (File)

Cardiff - Wales manager Chris Coleman predicted more glorious days ahead for his team after they moved to within sight of the 2016 European Championship by upsetting the odds to beat Belgium.

Gareth Bale exploited an error by Radja Nainggolan to put Wales ahead in the 25th minute at a delirious Cardiff City Stadium on Friday and the hosts withstood a barrage of second-half pressure to secure a result that takes them three points clear of Belgium in Group B.

With Israel and Cyprus two further points back, Wales and their long-suffering supporters can start to dream of a first major tournament appearance since the 1958 World Cup.

Asked if it was the biggest victory of his managerial career, Coleman replied: "That was the biggest win, but I believe there's a bigger one coming in this campaign. I don't know when it'll be. It'll be the one that says we're going to France.

"When something like that happens, you sense the whole nation is behind you and they're anticipating something special and you have to deliver, then of course it means more.

"We're not getting carried away. There's 12 points to play for, but we've just taken a big step forwards. That's four points we've taken off Belgium, so it's not a fluke.

"It's not like we've just come out of the blocks and started well. I think we've lost once in two years, and that was away to Holland (in June 2014).

"This group of players and my staff can take a lot of credit for the work that's been done.

"We all know that there's work to be done, but we can enjoy tonight (Friday) and we can enjoy sitting there, looking at the league table knowing that we're in the driving seat."

Bale's goal, his 17th for Wales, crowned his 50th international appearance and saw him calmly chest down Nainngolan's misdirected header before slipping the ball beneath goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

"He's desperate to succeed with Wales and 50 caps tonight, (it was) a great way to mark it with a goal, an ice-cold finish," said Coleman, who reiterated his belief that the Real Madrid forward, who has endured a complicated season, is "one of the best players in the world".

"Someone with that talent, they've got to be at a final (tournament)."

As well as propelling Wales closer to next year's tournament in France, the result is also believed to have guaranteed that they will be among the top seeds in next month's qualifying draw for the 2018 World Cup.

"That's good for us and that'll be interesting to see what comes out of that," Coleman said.

"But this is obviously our main objective. We've got to put this to bed and do something that the teams before us have not managed to do."

Belgium's preparations had been disturbed by the news that coach Marc Wilmots was in talks with Schalke over the German club's coaching vacancy.

Schalke announced earlier on Friday that they have appointed Andre Breitenreiter as their new coach, which drew an angry response from Wilmots.

"Four hours before a match, I don't think that's right," he said.

"But I decided to stay with Belgium until Euro 2016. That's what I told my players, that's what I'm going to do."

Belgium, ranked second in the world by FIFA, now have only a slender advantage over Israel and Cyprus ahead of the resumption of qualifying in September, when they host Bosnia-Hercegovina before travelling to Cyprus.

But when asked if he was worried about his side's chances of qualifying, Wilmots replied: "No, not at all. I think Wales will lose points as well.

"We have an important match against Bosnia, who are three points back. We are second with a two-point and three-point gap after six matches.

"It's not an uncomfortable situation, but obviously we'll try to win all our remaining matches and we'll see who finishes top after 10 matches."

Read more on:    euro 2016  |  gareth bale  |  soccer

What To Read Next


Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter


With the Absa Premiership in full swing, who will be crowned champions when all is said and done? Will Mamelodi Sundowns defend their title? Or can Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates or Bidvest Wits mount a serious challenge? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs

Who will claim the Premier League title at the end of the 2016/17 season?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.