Wales vs Belgium: We can't start thinking about the final, says jubilant Chris Coleman

2 Jul

Chris Coleman insisted Wales will not allow themselves to think about winning Euro 2016 after claiming the 3-1 quarter-final victory against Belgium was a ‘dream night.’

Wales, playing in their first major tournament since 1958, will face Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo in Lyon in next Wednesday’s semi-final after goals from Ashley Williams, Hal Robson-Kanu and Sam Vokes cancelled out Radja Nainggolan’s first-half opener the team ranked number two in the world by Fifa.

And less than four years after fearing he would be sacked following a 6-1 defeat against Serbia, Coleman insisted the moment in Lille must be cherished before thoughts turn to actually winning the tournament.

“You dream about nights like this and are never sure whether you will be good enough or lucky enough to be involved like that,” Coleman said. “If you are, it is indescribable really.

“Four years ago, we were as far away from this as we could be. It’s a great example of what happens with belief and talent. We are good enough to perform against any team in the world, but I don’t think about winning it.

“The first challenge was to get out of the group, the next challenge to beat Northern Ireland and then Belgium. Anybody with any other ideas, we won’t be thinking winning the tournament. We will be thinking about the next challenge which is beating Portugal.”

Wales will face Portugal without the suspended Aaron Ramsey and Ben Davies, who picked up their second bookings of the tournament in Lille.

But while Coleman insists both players will be ‘gutted’ to miss, he claims that the pair did what was needed to get Wales over the line.

“I’m gutted for Aaron,” Coleman said. “He has been outstanding, one of the players of the tournament.

“But we had to do what we had to do, maybe take one for the team, and Aaron and Ben Davies have done that.

“They deserve everything to be in the semis, but they have done what was needed to be done.

“There is so much pressure on the players, though, that two yellows in five games is tough.

“But they have done everything required of them and given everything for their country. It’s disappointing for them, but the rules are the rules.”

Wednesday’s semi-final will pitch Wales talisman Gareth Bale against Real Madrid team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo in a fascinating sub-plot to the game.

And Bale insists the Welsh will travel to Lyon have earned the right to play for a place in the final.

“We fought as hard as anyone,” Bale said. “We covered every blade of grass. I think we deserve to be in the semi-finals. We believe in ourselves. We know what we’re doing.

“It feels incredible. We fully believed we could get this far. We said we’d give it a good go. We’re enjoying the journey.

“We’ll go into the semi-final with confidence, but we can’t afford to look past that game. 

“We’ll do our homework and work on our game plan. It means everything. Our fans were 10 times as loud despite there being much more Belgians in the crowd. We’ll enjoy the journey together.”


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