Euro 2016

McAuley 'gutted' to end Northern Ireland party

2016-06-26 10:38
Goal (AFP)

Paris - Gareth McAuley said that he was "gutted" to have ended the Northern Ireland campaign at Euro 2016 after his own goal sent Wales into the quarter-finals.

The West Bromwich Albion defender, 36, turned a Gareth Bale cross into his own net in the 75th minute at Parc des Princes to give Chris Coleman's men a 1-0 win in Saturday's all-British last 16 tie.

Northern Ireland's fans have captured hearts with their ubiquitous chant about striker Will Grigg -- who ended up not playing a single minute at the tournament -- and McAuley said he was sorry to have spoilt the fun.

"I'm just gutted that everyone has to go home," McAuley told reporters. "It's been fantastic. We've embraced it and we've enjoyed it.

"It's been brilliant, to be honest with you. It's rough and smooth. I've been in the game long enough to know that you keep it on a level keel.

"Never too high, never too low. It's difficult tonight, but I've enjoyed it."

Bale, the tournament's joint-top scorer with three goals, mustered just one shot on target in the game -- a long-range free-kick early in the second half, which was parried by goalkeeper Michael McGovern.

But the Real Madrid star was to provide the telling moment of quality that decided the game.

After gathering a pass from Aaron Ramsey, he whipped in a low cross that McAuley, in trying to prevent the ball reaching Welsh substitute Hal Robson-Kanu, diverted into his own net.

"It's gutting to go out to a situation like that, but Bale has put a fantastic ball across the box," McAuley said.

"I could probably have got a little less on it, but he's right behind me so I've had to try and do something.

"I'm just gutted for all the lads, the effort they've put in."

Showing that his sense of humour remained intact, he added: "But I'll take that rather than missing a penalty!"

Kyle Lafferty, the Norwich City striker, paid tribute to Northern Ireland's legion of travelling fans.

"Every single one of the fans should be proud," he said. "It hasn't gone unrecognised from all the players.

"We're just gutted that we're going home and they're going home."


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk


Who will be crowned Euro 2016 champions when all is said and done?

Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...

Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter


The 2018/19 Absa Premiership season is in full swing. Will Mamelodi Sundowns retain their title? Or can one of Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, Wits, SuperSport United - or another team perhaps - snatch glory from the Brazilians? Be sure to visit Sport24 for all the latest news!

Latest blogs

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.