Belfast Telegraph

Wales 1-0 Belgium: Welsh wizards weave way to famous victory

Wales took a massive step towards ending their 58-year wait for a major tournament appearance by beating Belgium 1-0 for one of the greatest victories in their history.

Gareth Bale's 17th goal for his country on the occasion of his 50th cap settled an incredible Euro 2016 qualifying contest in front of a sell-out 33,000-plus crowd at Cardiff City Stadium.

Belgium came into the game top of Group B, ranked second in the world and having lost only one of their last 17 matches - last summer's World Cup quarter-final against Argentina.

They could not find a way through an organised home defence, even if they often laid a siege on the Welsh goal after Bale's 25th-minute strike.

Wales - who have not qualified for a major tournament since the 1958 World Cup - now have a three-point lead at the top of Group B with four games left to play, and two more wins would almost certainly guarantee their presence at the European Championships in France next summer.

"We have been fighting for a long time for an atmosphere like this, I have certainly never witnessed one like it," said Wales manager Chris Coleman.

"It was not one of our best performances but we just dug in.

"That is what we do when we don't play well, we sacrifice some imagination, but dig in as a team.

"We stood up to what Belgium wanted to do. To do anything tonight we needed everything, we couldn't hold back and we got that and more.

"Jazz Richards made his debut against Eden Hazard in Brussels, he had a terrific game. He has played plenty of games in the Premier League, he takes big games in his stride. We needed brave players tonight.

"Even if we came away without the points, we wanted to get the supporters back on our side, to be proud of the football team and they will not see a more committed group of players.

"It is a great win. It is a huge step forward to us qualifying and our lads can't wait to get back in and play the next two qualifiers. We defended like demons and the fans were incredible."

Belfast Telegraph