Trust Bale to bail Wales out, says Coleman
WITH an expert swish of his left foot, Gareth Bale demonstrated against Northern Ireland that even when he does not shine, he can decide matches for Wales at Euro 2016.
The Real Madrid star, the tournament's joint-top scorer with three goals, was shackled for much of Saturday's last-16 game in Paris, mustering a single shot on target with a second-half free kick.
But with 15 minutes remaining, his wicked, low cross from the left forced Northern Irish defender Gareth McAuley to prod the ball into his own net, sending Wales into a quarter-final against Belgium or Hungary.
"One quality delivery from a world-class player was the difference between the two sides," said former Wales midfielder Robbie Savage, analysing the game for the BBC.
Said Wales manager Chris Coleman: "We know with a Gareth Bale on the pitch, that a little bit of brilliance in the space of a second can change your life. We were depending on that today."
Bale was a picture of contentment at the final whistle, scooping his three-year-old daughter, Alba Violet, into his arms and crossing the pitch to salute the Wales fans who were bellowing his name.
Wales are now on course to cross paths in the quarter-finals with Belgium, who are the favourites to progress in their last-16 tie with Hungary (this morning, Singapore time).