Wales down Belgium to reach first ever semi-final

Fri Jul 1, 2016 6:33pm EDT
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By Toby Davis

LILLE, France (Reuters) - Wales produced a stunning upset to reach the Euro 2016 semi-finals after Hal Robson-Kanu's superbly fashioned goal and Sam Vokes's late header secured a 3-1 comeback win over Belgium on Friday to set up a clash with Portugal.

Robson-Kanu left three Belgium players for dead with a 'Cruyff' turn and calmly stroked the ball home to put Wales ahead in the second half, while substitute Vokes's header ensured they reached their first major tournament semi-final.

It was a crushing blow for heavy favorites Belgium, who had taken the lead in the 13th minute when Radja Nainggolan rifled a shot into the top corner from distance only for Wales captain Ashley Williams to level with a header from a corner.

"I said before we kicked the ball today, we're not here to enjoy it, we are here to compete," Wales manager Chris Coleman said. "Don't be afraid to have dreams. Four years ago I was as far away from this as you could imagine. I've had more failures than successes but I'm not afraid to fail. We deserve this."

Wales, playing in their first quarter-final, and major tournament, since losing to Brazil at the 1958 World Cup, next have a match that pits the world's two most expensive players - Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo and his Real Madrid team mate Gareth Bale - against each other in a mouth-watering clash.

Coleman's side, however, will have to cope without their inspirational midfielder Aaron Ramsey and defender Ben Davies who both picked up bookings that ruled them out of the semi-final in Lyon on Wednesday.

Belgium coach Marc Wilmots was left to rue an injury and suspension in defense that robbed him of the experienced Jan Vertonghen and Thomas Vermaelen as their younger replacements, Jordan Lukaku and Jason Denayer, were frequently exposed.

The manner of the defeat, however, is likely to increase the scrutiny on Wilmots, who has faced criticism for failing to make the most of what many believe to be a golden generation of Belgium players.   Continued...

Football Soccer - Wales v Belgium - EURO 2016 - Quarter Final - Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Lille, France - 1/7/16 - Wales' Gareth Bale celebrates with team mates after the match. REUTERS/Charles Platiau