Belfast Telegraph

Gareth Bale powers Wales to brink of Euro qualification

By Bill Steele

Wales coach Chris Coleman insisted togetherness had got his side through their tough Euro 2016 examination in Cyprus.

Wales had to wait until Gareth Bale's 82nd-minute winner to secure the three points in the Nicosia heat which takes them to within touching distance of next summer's European Championship in France.

"We weren't at our best but to come to Cyprus is always notoriously difficult," Coleman said after his side claimed the victory to leave them needing three points from their final three games to qualify for Euro 2016.

"We didn't play our best in possession but we created the better chances and I think it would have been harsh on us if we'd lost.

"But I think our players showed their team spirit, work ethic and how much it means to them to play for their country."

Victory over Israel in Cardiff on Sunday would secure Wales' first appearance at a major tournament since the 1958 World Cup.

But Coleman said his squad would not deviate from their path of focusing on what is immediately in front of them, and not the long-term reward on offer.

"We can't hide from the facts, looking at the way the group is we're one win away from a guaranteed place in France 2016, we know that," Coleman said.

"They saw the incredible 4,000 following we had, but we must never take our eye off the goal.

"We know when we get back the expectations and we know what happens if we beat Israel."

Wales visit Bosnia-Herzegovina and entertain group whipping boys Andorra in October on the back of the Israel game, and it is almost unthinkable now that Coleman's side will trip up in the final straight.




Belfast Telegraph