European Championship - Group B
RussiaRussia0WalesWales3

Russia 0-3 Wales

By Dafydd PritchardBBC Wales Sport in Toulouse

Wales swept past Russia with a breathtaking display in their final group game at Euro 2016 to reach the knockout stages of a major tournament for only the second time in their history.

Aaron Ramsey's beautiful clipped finish put Wales ahead before Neil Taylor scored his first international goal as Chris Coleman's side seized control with an inspired first-half performance.

There was no let-up in the second half as the irrepressible Gareth Bale struck to become the tournament's leading scorer with three goals.

England's goalless draw against Slovakia in Saint-Etienne means Wales progress as Group B winners and will face the third-placed team from Group A, C or D.

News of the England result filtered through to the Toulouse crowd a couple of minutes after the final whistle, adding to the sense of disbelieving euphoria among Wales' raucous supporters.

Seizing the moment

Wales fans celebrate a goal against Russia
Wales have scored at least twice as many first-half goals as any other team at Euro 2016

Playing in their first European Championship, Wales take their place in the knockout stages of an international competition for the first time since a goal by Pele saw them beaten by Brazil in the 1958 World Cup quarter-finals.

There was security in the knowledge a draw was probably enough, while even a defeat coupled with an English win against Slovakia could have seen them progress as one of the best third-placed teams.

Yet Coleman and his players did not want to rely on anyone else. With their destiny in their own hands, Wales wanted to take care of business in Toulouse.

They did so in spectacular fashion, overwhelming a ponderous Russia side with one of the most impressive performances in Welsh football history.

History boy Bale

Wales shots on target graphic
Here are Wales' shots on target in the first half, including goals from Aaron Ramsey and Neil Taylor. They had 19 shots in the match

Coleman raised a few eyebrows by selecting striker Sam Vokes ahead of Hal Robson-Kanu. The decision, though, paid off handsomely as the Burnley forward provided the central pivot for a rampant attacking display from Wales.

His inclusion allowed Bale to torment Russia's defence in his roaming role, wreaking havoc as he ran relentlessly at Sergei Ignashevich and Vasili Berezutski, a centre-back pairing with a combined age of 70.

Ramsey revelled in an advanced position similar to Bale's, with Russia's high-octane but high-risk pressing game allowing Wales too much space.

Joe Allen exposed those gaps with a brilliant assist for Wales' opening goal, controlling the ball with a backheel before carving open the Russia defence with a pass for Ramsey, who delicately lifted his finish over the onrushing Igor Akinfeev.

Gareth Bale
Gareth Bale is the first player to score in all three group games at the European Championship since Ruud van Nistelrooy and Milan Baros in 2004

The second goal came from an unexpected source as Taylor, whose last strike was for Wrexham against Grays Athletic in the Conference in 2010, found himself unmarked at the back post.

His uncertain first effort was blocked by Akinfeev but he converted the rebound.

Leonid Slutsky's side could not recover, and their elimination was sealed when Bale flicked the ball with the outside of his left boot and into the net despite a touch from Akinfeev.

Man of the match - Aaron Ramsey

Aaron Ramsey
This was arguably Aaron Ramsey's greatest game for Wales - he scored a fine goal and threaded intricate passes at will to pick holes in the Russian defence

What they said

Wales boss Chris Coleman: "The three points are massive for us but the performance was even sweeter than the points.

"My players were brave. I don't mean without the ball; I mean brave in possession. We were brilliant without the ball against England, but with it, we didn't play like we know we could.

Wales play with no fear - Coleman

"I'm absolutely made up for the players. This group are on their way to more success and this is just part of the journey they are on.

"We have to see who we get next but we play with no fear. When we play like that, why should we have any fear?"

The stats you need to know

Euro 2016: Gareth Bale's three goals for Wales
  • Gareth Bale is now Wales' top scorer in major finals (three goals), netting one more than Ivor Allchurch (two, both at the 1958 World Cup).
  • Wales have scored four first-half goals in the competition, two more than any other side.
  • Chris Coleman's team had nine shots on target in the first half, the most of any side in the first 45 minutes of a Euro 2016 game so far.
  • Neil Taylor's strike was the first competitive Wales goal which did not involve Gareth Bale or Aaron Ramsey (scoring or assisting) since David Cotterill found the net against Cyprus in October 2014.

What next?

With their country having been absent from major tournaments for 58 years, several of the estimated 20,000 Wales fans would have been forgiven for being content with qualifying for Euro 2016.

However, it has been a constant refrain from Coleman, Bale and others that Wales were not travelling to France to make up the numbers as happy tourists.

Wales are here to defy expectations and they will view their last-16 fixture, whoever it may be against, as an opportunity to provide their hitherto success-starved fans with yet more memorable moments.

Line-ups

Russia

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Akinfeev
  • 3Smolnikov
  • 14BerezutskiSubstituted forBerezutskiat 45'minutes
  • 4Ignashevich
  • 23Kombarov
  • 8Glushakov
  • 11MamaevBooked at 64mins
  • 9Kokorin
  • 15ShirokovSubstituted forGolovinat 52'minutes
  • 10SmolovSubstituted forSamedovat 70'minutes
  • 22Dzyuba

Substitutes

  • 2Shishkin
  • 5Neustädter
  • 6Berezutski
  • 7Yusupov
  • 12Lodygin
  • 13Golovin
  • 16Alvim Marinato
  • 17Shatov
  • 18Ivanov
  • 19Samedov
  • 20Torbinski
  • 21Schennikov

Wales

Formation 3-4-3

  • 1Hennessey
  • 5Chester
  • 6Williams
  • 4Davies
  • 2Gunter
  • 7AllenSubstituted forEdwardsat 74'minutes
  • 16LedleySubstituted forKingat 76'minutes
  • 3Taylor
  • 11BaleSubstituted forChurchat 83'minutes
  • 18VokesBooked at 16mins
  • 10Ramsey

Substitutes

  • 8King
  • 9Robson-Kanu
  • 12Fon Williams
  • 13Williams
  • 14Edwards
  • 15Richards
  • 17Cotterill
  • 19Collins
  • 20Williams
  • 21Ward
  • 22Vaughan
  • 23Church
Referee:
Jonas Eriksson
Attendance:
28,840

Match Stats

Home TeamRussiaAway TeamWales
Possession
Home49%
Away51%
Shots
Home12
Away19
Shots on Target
Home2
Away12
Corners
Home4
Away5
Fouls
Home9
Away6

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Russia 0, Wales 3.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Russia 0, Wales 3.

  3. Post update

    Attempt missed. Artem Dzyuba (Russia) left footed shot from the left side of the box is too high following a corner.

  4. Post update

    Corner, Russia. Conceded by David Edwards.

  5. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Igor Smolnikov (Russia) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Artem Dzyuba.

  6. Post update

    Foul by Simon Church (Wales).

  7. Post update

    Aleksandr Samedov (Russia) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  8. Post update

    Attempt missed. Ashley Williams (Wales) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Aaron Ramsey with a cross following a corner.

  9. Post update

    Corner, Wales. Conceded by Sergei Ignashevich.

  10. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Aaron Ramsey (Wales) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked.

  11. Post update

    Foul by Andy King (Wales).

  12. Post update

    Aleksandr Samedov (Russia) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  13. Post update

    Attempt missed. Artem Dzyuba (Russia) right footed shot from very close range is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Pavel Mamaev with a cross.

  14. Substitution

    Substitution, Wales. Simon Church replaces Gareth Bale.

  15. Post update

    Attempt missed. Sergei Ignashevich (Russia) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right from a direct free kick.

  16. Post update

    Foul by James Chester (Wales).

  17. Post update

    Aleksandr Kokorin (Russia) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  18. Substitution

    Substitution, Wales. Andy King replaces Joe Ledley because of an injury.

  19. Substitution

    Substitution, Wales. David Edwards replaces Joe Allen.

  20. Post update

    Foul by Pavel Mamaev (Russia).

As It Stood

A

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1France32104137
2Switzerland31202115
3Albania310213-23
4Romania301224-21

B

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Wales32016336
2England31203215
3Slovakia31113304
4Russia301226-41

C

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Germany21102024
2Poland21101014
3Northern Ireland21012113
4Ukraine200204-40

D

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Spain22004046
2Croatia21103214
3Czech Rep201123-11
4Turkey200204-40

E

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Italy22003036
2Belgium21013213
3Sweden201112-11
4R. of Ireland201114-31

F

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Hungary21103124
2Iceland20202202
3Portugal20201102
4Austria201102-21
View full European Championship tables

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