Wales 1-0 Belgium: Defining moment still to come - Coleman

By Dafydd PritchardBBC Wales Sport at Cardiff City Stadium
Chris Coleman has turned things around for Wales after losing his first four games in charge

Wales' win against Belgium is a career highlight that can only be eclipsed by sealing Euro 2016 qualification, says manager Chris Coleman.

Wales beat Belgium 1-0 to regain top spot in Group B and move closer to a first major tournament since 1958.

It also capped a remarkable turnaround for Coleman, who started his reign with four defeats.

"That was the biggest win but I believe there's a bigger one coming in this campaign," he said.

"I don't know when it will be. It will be the one which says we're going to France."

Record breakers and a bright future

Gareth Bale
Gareth Bale's goal was his 17th in 50 international appearances for Wales

This is now Wales' best start to any qualifying campaign. They are unbeaten in six games, three points clear of second-placed Belgium and five ahead of third-placed Israel.

With Euro 2016 expanded to 24 teams, the top two sides in each qualifying group are automatically assured of their places, while there are additional spots for the best third-placed team and eight play-off winners.


That gave Wales renewed hope of qualification before the campaign began and, unbeaten to date, that sense of optimism has grown.

"We're embracing the pressure," said Coleman, who was the first Wales manager to lose his first four matches in charge. "It's a good pressure to have - we've earned it.

"We're top of the group now with four games to go. The players and fans deserve to enjoy it because they've come through a lot, but there's a lot more to go through yet."

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

'Bale deserves tournament chance'

As ever, Gareth Bale was pivotal to Wales' win at the Cardiff City Stadium, latching on to Radja Nainggolan's bizarre headed mistake before calmly finishing between Thibaut Courtois's legs.

That was the Real Madrid forward's fifth goal of the qualifying campaign - behind only England's Danny Welbeck (six) in the scoring charts - and Coleman is desperate for him to play at a major tournament.

"It would be a shame if he didn't get there," he added.

Gareth Bale
Gareth Bale took to Twitter after the game to express how much the win meant to him

"If you're Gareth and you're playing with Real Madrid and you've won the Champions League and played in huge games, you want to experience that with your country.

"He's a passionate boy and he's desperate to succeed with Wales. Someone with that talent, they've got to be at a finals."

Bale, who was making his 50th appearance for Wales, told BBC Radio 5 live: "Getting to a major tournament is right at the top of my list now and it is on, so we will keep working hard.

"For most of us out there it was probably our biggest game and we all stepped up to the occasion and did what we needed to do.

"For me, it was very special on my 50th cap. We know we are in a great position but we will be focused when the next bunch of games come. It is easy to get carried away but there is a lot of hard work to go."

Wales have crumbled before - but not this time

Wales lost to Russia in a two-legged play-off to miss out on a place at Euro 2004

Robbie Savage was a member of the Wales side which came agonisingly close to qualifying for Euro 2004, missing out in a narrow play-off defeat by Russia.

Savage was commentating on the Belgium game for BBC Radio 5 live and is confident this squad will not fall short.

"The last time the pressure was on was when we lost against Russia [in 2003]," he said. "We crumbled. Tonight, when it really mattered, this group of players and management staff found something inside them that got them over the line.

"What Chris Coleman has done for this squad deserves so much credit.

"There are no cliques in the squad - they appreciate they have a world-class player and they thrive on that.

"Yes, Gareth Bale is the superstar but when he comes into this squad, he is one of them and it shows in the way they perform and celebrate."

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