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Wales' Euro 2016 fairytale comes to an end

Published 06/07/2016

Wales fans gather in Lyon ahead of the Euro 2016 showdown with Portugal
Wales fans gather in Lyon ahead of the Euro 2016 showdown with Portugal
Wales manager Chris Coleman at the Stade de Lyon before the semi-final against Portugal

Wales' fairytale Euro 2016 campaign has drawn to a close after a thrilling four weeks in which they surpassed the wildest expectations of their fans.

Chris Coleman's side upset the odds to top their group and became one of the surprise packages of the tournament after a dominating performance against a fancied Belgian side in Lille in the quarter-finals.

Thousands of Welsh fans followed the side to all four corners of France over their six games, with millions more tuning in at home backing the Welsh.

But supporters will now be heading for home with smiles on their faces after an enthralling run which came to an end after Portugal proved too much.

A goal each from Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani early in the second half were the difference after a cagey first period in which few chances were made by either side.

Gareth Bale and his teammates battled hard to bring the game back under control but ultimately lost 2-0.

Wales started the tournament as 100/1 outsiders but their defiant team spirit helped them to dispatch Northern Ireland and Belgium in the knockout stages to reach the last four and they were priced at 8/1 to win the tournament before kick-off in Lyon.

More than 20,000 fans were estimated to have travelled to Lyon to watch Wales attempt to become the first British side for 50 years to reach a championship final, with the side coming agonisingly close.

Sam Carden, 22, from Carmarthen, said: "We made the semi finals. It's amazing. I'm just speechless, proud - that's it."

Sion Davies said: "We've done really well to come this far. We've done Wales proud, done everyone proud. Everyone is happy. I'm gutted but we've done really well. It would have been nice to go to the final but Portugal were the better team."

Sion Jones, 20, added: "I'm proud of the boys."

Josh Cusack, 19, from Mountain Ash, said: "I'm gutted but I'm grateful at the same time. You wouldn't have expected us to make the group stages so to come this far is great.

"May the best team win in the final and win the Euros.

"I'm just gutted we're out now. It was never expected of us to get this far so congratulations to us and we'll wait and see what happens next."

Scott Bendle, 47, from Swansea, said: "We never turned up tonight. That's the frustrating part. We know on our day we can play and we really fancied our chances tonight.

"We missed Aaron Ramsey and Ben Davies and that was the difference.

"It's our first time, Portugal are expected to do this all the time.

"We'll be seeing more of these boys, I'll tell you."

Rhys Appleby, 29, from Cwmbran, said: "We didn't think we'd qualify and we got to the semi-final and we won the group.

"Whatever happened after that didn't matter.

"Wales got to the semi-finals of a European Championship. We lost to Portugal, they could go on and win it. We're just having fun."

Bale tweeted his thanks to the fans for backing the side throughout the tournament. He said: "No regrets tonight, we gave everything. Thank you for all the support!! #TogetherStronger"

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