European Championship Qualifying - Group B
WalesWales1BelgiumBelgium0

Wales 1-0 Belgium

By Dafydd PritchardBBC Wales Sport at Cardiff City Stadium
Gareth Bale scored his 17th goal in 50 international appearances
Gareth Bale scored his 17th goal in 50 international appearances
  • Bale scores winner on his 50th Wales appearance
  • Goal was Bale's fifth in six qualifying games
  • Win moves Wales three points clear at top of Group B
  • First defeat for Belgium since 2014 World Cup

Wales claimed a momentous win against Belgium to regain top spot in their Euro 2016 qualifying group and take a huge stride towards ending their 57-year absence from major tournaments.

Gareth Bale latched on to Radja Nainggolan's misdirected header and finished with consummate calm to give Wales an unlikely lead against the team ranked second in the world.

Belgium dominated for long periods but were frustrated by disciplined and brave Welsh defending at a highly-charged Cardiff City Stadium.

Wales are now three points clear of second-placed Belgium at the summit of Group B and five ahead of third-placed Israel, who lost 3-1 in Bosnia-Hercegovina. Cyprus are level on points with Israel after a 3-1 win in Andorra.

How do you qualify?
There are nine groups and the top two from each will book a Euro 2016 spot, accounting for 18 of the 24 places.
The third-placed side with the most points (discarding those earned against the team finishing sixth in groups as one group has five teams) will also make it.
This leaves eight other teams who have finished third in a group to play off over two legs to provide another four sides.
So that's 23, while France qualify automatically as hosts.

Having started this campaign as fourth seeds, victory also means Wales will now be among the top seeds for 2018 World Cup qualifying.

Without an appearance at a major tournament since the 1958 World Cup, Wales had cultivated a newfound sense of belief as they entered this game unbeaten in their five matches to date.

Coleman and his players had spoken beforehand about the anguish of previous near misses and were determined to help buck that trend by beating a Belgian side who had not lost since a 2014 World Cup quarter-final defeat by Argentina.

And this huge defensive effort against Marc Wilmots' team is a significant step towards securing their place at next summer's European Championship in France.

Coleman sprang a major surprise with his team selection, starting with fringe Swansea City defender Jazz Richards at right-back.

Richards and his defensive colleagues were kept busy in an open start to the game in which a fluid, attacking Belgian side put their opponents under pressure.

Nainggolan had a curling 20-yard shot well saved by Wayne Hennessey, while visiting captain Eden Hazard volleyed over the bar.

Christian Bale celebrates scoring for Wales
The win means Wales are closing in on their first appearance at a major tournament in 58 years

Wales struggled to keep the ball as they were overwhelmed by black shirts, but took the lead with a goal equal in farce and quality.

Aaron Ramsey's free-kick was half cleared, only for Nainggolan to head the ball back into Belgium's six-yard box, where Bale coolly chested it down and slotted the ball through Thibaut Courtois's legs.

The goal sparked wild celebrations in the stands, and Wales could have doubled their advantage 10 minutes later as Hal Robson-Kanu's first-time shot fizzed wide after Ramsey's initial effort was saved by Courtois.

Wales held on to their lead until half-time, their five-man defence diligently nullifying Belgium's numerous and potent attacking threats.

The visitors brought on Everton striker Romelu Lukaku at the break and, with an added physical edge to their attack, they continued to control the game.

Kevin De Bruyne shot narrowly wide from the edge of the area, while Hazard and Benteke found their attempts at goal blocked by bloody-minded Welsh defenders.

The strain of their efforts began to tell late in the game, as an exhausted Bale was replaced by Sam Vokes with three minutes left having appeared to struggle with cramp.

Urged on by the sell-out crowd, Wales resisted Belgium's desperate injury-time attempts to salvage a point and clung on for a famous victory.

Line-ups

Wales

Formation 3-4-2-1

  • 1Hennessey
  • 2Gunter
  • 6Williams
  • 5Chester
  • 4Richards
  • 7AllenBooked at 28mins
  • 16Ledley
  • 3Taylor
  • 11BaleSubstituted forVokesat 88'minutes
  • 10Ramsey
  • 9Robson-KanuSubstituted forKingat 90+3'minutes

Substitutes

  • 8King
  • 12Fon Williams
  • 13MacDonald
  • 14Church
  • 15Vokes
  • 17Lawrence
  • 18Matthews
  • 19Vaughan
  • 20Cotterill
  • 21Ward
  • 23Henley

Belgium

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Courtois
  • 2AlderweireldSubstituted forFerreira-Carrascoat 76'minutes
  • 18Denayer
  • 3LombaertsBooked at 59mins
  • 5Vertonghen
  • 4Nainggolan
  • 6Witsel
  • 14MertensSubstituted forLukakuat 45'minutes
  • 7De Bruyne
  • 10E Hazard
  • 9Benteke

Substitutes

  • 8Tielemans
  • 11Mirallas
  • 12Mignolet
  • 13Gillet
  • 15Deschacht
  • 16Ferreira-Carrasco
  • 17Origi
  • 19Dembélé
  • 20Lukaku
  • 21Vanden Borre
  • 22Chadli
  • 23Dendoncker
Referee:
Dr. Felix Brych

Match Stats

Home TeamWalesAway TeamBelgium
Possession
Home35%
Away65%
Shots
Home6
Away18
Shots on Target
Home2
Away1
Corners
Home1
Away9
Fouls
Home12
Away14

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Wales 1, Belgium 0.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Wales 1, Belgium 0.

  3. Substitution

    Substitution, Wales. Andy King replaces Hal Robson-Kanu.

  4. Post update

    Foul by Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco (Belgium).

  5. Post update

    Ashley Williams (Wales) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  6. Post update

    Attempt missed. Christian Benteke (Belgium) left footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Kevin De Bruyne.

  7. Post update

    Corner, Belgium. Conceded by Joe Ledley.

  8. Post update

    Corner, Belgium. Conceded by Ashley Williams.

  9. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Jan Vertonghen (Belgium) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Eden Hazard.

  10. Post update

    Axel Witsel (Belgium) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  11. Post update

    Foul by Ashley Williams (Wales).

  12. Post update

    Jason Denayer (Belgium) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  13. Post update

    Foul by Sam Vokes (Wales).

  14. Post update

    Foul by Nicolas Lombaerts (Belgium).

  15. Post update

    Sam Vokes (Wales) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  16. Post update

    Delay over. They are ready to continue.

  17. Substitution

    Substitution, Wales. Sam Vokes replaces Gareth Bale.

  18. Post update

    Delay in match Gareth Bale (Wales) because of an injury.

  19. Post update

    Eden Hazard (Belgium) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  20. Post update

    Foul by Joe Allen (Wales).