Wales just one game away from historic Euro 2016 final
After no-one gave them any hope of making it out of their group, Wales stand just one game away from a place in the final of Euro 2016.
After 46 games the tournament finally came alive during the quarter-final stage with goals, excitement and shocks following a slow start to the tournament.
The biggest surprise came with the ease in which Wales saw off one of the pre-tournament favourites, Belgium. Despite going behind early to a thunderbolt from Radja Nainggolan, goals from captain Ashley Williams, Hal Robson-Kanu and Burnley FC’s Sam Vokes saw the Dragons romp their way to the last four of a major tournament for the first time in the country’s history.
Portugal will be their opponents after they saw off Poland 5-3 on penalties, and despite the world’s media billing the game as a match between two Real Madrid stars – Gareth Bale v Ronaldo – it’s the home nation that are proving they are more than just a one-man team.
Proud Welshman and UCFB graduate Lewis Payne is as nervous as he is excited about the next stage and the journey his nation has travelled in France over the last month.
Lewis said: “Wales reaching the semi-finals of the Euros is like a dream. It’s been fantastic to see it happen and I just don’t want it to end. The whole country has been filled with excitement and nerves since winning the group.”
He added cautiously: “The team has done fantastic to get where they are and yet it will be gutting to lose to Portugal now. I don’t want to get excited but at the same time this is a dream and we’re just two games away from winning it!”
In the other semi-final, hosts France will take on Germany after seeing off England’s conquerors Iceland. France raced into a 4-0 lead at half time and cruised through the second half, eventually winning 5-2. Germany made their way to the semi-finals following a dramatic penalty-shoot out win over Italy, who had arguably been the team of the tournament.
The sides were 1-1 after 120 minutes, and despite threating to lose only their second penalty shoot-out in 40 years, order was restored when Jonas Hector scored the winning penalty to see Germany win 6-5 despite his side missing three of their spot kicks.
Wednesday 6th July – Portugal v Wales, Lyon, 8pm
Thursday 7th July – Germany v France, Marseille, 8pm