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The second day of Euro 2016 quarter-finals saw Wales produce a fantastic display to defeat Belgium 3-1 in Lille.
Belgium took the lead on 13 minutes. Eden Hazard found Roma central midfielder Radja Nainggolan 25 yards out from goal and the highly-rated star drilled a superb effort past Wayne Hennessey, despite the Crystal Palace getting a hand to the effort.
The Dragons were level on the half hour mark. Captain Ashley Williams came up for a corner kick from Aaron Ramsey and headed home powerfully when completely unmarked in the Belgian penalty area.
Wales took the lead rather against the run of play on 55 minutes and it was an incredible goal. Aaron Ramsey found striker Hal-Robson Kanu in the box with his back to goal, but the former Reading striker looked surrounded by Belgium defenders, only to produce a Cruyff turn and wrong-foot them all and slot past Thibaut Courtois in the Belgium goal.
Belgium huffed and puffed, but created very little of note to threaten the Welsh goal and on 85 minutes the Dragons sealed their place in the semi-finals. Wing-back Chris Gunter got down the right wing and produce a pinpoint cross right onto the head of substitute Sam Vokes, who headed powerfully past Courtois in the Belgium goal.
Wales will now face Portugal on Wednesday night in Lyon as their incredible debut campaign at the European Championships continues.
But as the dust settles over Wales' historic win, we must look to this evening's game for the next football action.
Two of Europe’ biggest countries will meet on Saturday night in the quarter-finals as Germany and Italy face each other in Bordeaux.
The world champions secured their place in the last-eight of the competition by recording a 3-0 victory over Slovakia. Die Mannschaft opened the scoring on eight minutes courtesy of a deflected volley from Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng on eight minutes.
That lead was doubled on 43 minutes, as striker Mario Gomez scored from close-range. Winger Julian Draxler sealed the win with a well-taken volley in the second half.
The use of experienced striker Gomez was almost a last resort, but his selection has paid dividends with the 30-year-old looking to add to his two goals in France so far against a stubborn Italian backline.
Ironically the final of this tournament falls of Gomez’s 31st birthday and the striker will be hoping to be in Paris with his team for that occasion.
The victory over Slovakia means that Germany are unbeaten in France and have kept clean sheets in all their games on French soil. In fact Germany have kept clean sheets in their last five international outings.
Germany have taken part in 12 consecutive European Championships, having not missed out since their first qualifying campaign as West Germany in 1968. The last time the world champions failed to get to the last-four of this competition was in 2004, when they did not even make it out of the group stages.
Germany may be world champions and have quality players in their squad, but Italy are their bogey side, as Die Mannschaft have failed to beat the Azzurri in their last eight meetings at international tournaments.
The last time the two met in competitive action came at Euro 2012 when Italy recorded a 2-1 win in the semi-finals of the competition. One positive for the world champions is the fact that they defeated Italy 4-1 in a friendly international earlier this year.
Germany boss Joachim Low has a fully-fit squad to choose from for this clash. The same starting eleven from the Slovakia game is likely to start.
Italy have proved many of their doubters wrong in France by making the last-eight of the competition. The Azzurri made the quarter-finals in style by eliminating reigning European champions Spain with a 2-0 win.
Italy took the lead on 33 minutes through a close-range effort from centre-back Giorgio Chiellini. David De Gea in the Spain goal and Gianluigi Buffon in the Italy goal both pulled-off good saves.
However the Azzurri doubled their lead in stoppage-time, as Southampton forward Graziano Pelle scored his second of the tournament from close-range. Pelle looks to be in a good position to win the golden boot, but faces a tough task getting past a stubborn German backline.
Italy have won five out of their last six international games, with their only defeat in that run coming in a 1-0 defeat against the Republic of Ireland in a game that did not matter to Antonio Conte’s team.
The Azzurri also kept clean sheets in all five of those victories. Italy’s last six games have been low-scoring affairs with under 2.5 goals scored in their last six games.
Antonio Conte’s team have a few personnel issues heading into this clash. Defensive midfielder Thiago Motta is suspended, while fellow midfielder Daniele De Rossi and wing-back Antonio Candreva are fitness doubts.
The first quarter-final of Euro 2016 took place on Thursday night, as Portugal progressed past Poland on penalties to become the first team to make it to the semi-finals of the competition.
Poland enjoyed a dream start taking the lead after just two minutes. Southampton full-back Cedric Soares misguided a long ball and winger Kamil Grosicki picked-up the ball down the left.
The Rennes star produced a pinpoint cross to pick-out Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski near the penalty area and the striker slotted the ball past Rui Patricio in the Portugal goal. The goal was the second fastest in the history of the European Championships.
Portugal equalised on 33 minutes. Highly-rated youngster Renato Sanches played a one-two with Nani before receiving the ball back on the edge of the area. The 18-year-old took a touch and hit a powerful effort towards goal that took a heavy deflection off Grzegorz Krychowiak before beating Lukasz Fabianski.
The game saw very few other chances, with Cristiano Ronaldo going close on a couple of occasions. However, the game finished 1-1 in normal-time and went to extra-time. In the extra-time period there were very few clear-cut chances on goal and the game went to penalty kicks.
All the penalties were scored until Poland winger Jakub Blaszczykowski stepped-up to take the Poles fourth effort and saw his spot-kick superbly palmed away by Rui Patricio. Substitute Ricardo Quaresma stepped-up and scored Portugal’s fifth penalty to book their place in the semi-finals and a meeting with either Wales or Belgium in the last four of the competition.
Euro 16, Quarter Final 2
Wales and Belgium clash in the quarter-finals of Euro 2016 in Marseille, with both sides eying up places in the last four of the competition.
The Dragons were rather fortunate to record a 1-0 victory Northern Ireland in the last-16. Wales thought they had opened the scoring on 19 minutes, but Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey was ruled to be offside and the effort was disallowed.
Wales did take the lead with just 15 minutes remaining, as Gareth McAuley struck out his leg and poked a Gareth Bale past his own ‘keeper. The effort was enough to put Chris Coleman’s side through to the last-eight of the competition at the first time of asking.
Real Madrid star Bale is the Welsh talisman, following his seven goals in qualifying and three in the group stages. No doubt he will be a big threat to the Belgian defence, as he looks to help his side to yet another historic win.
Wales will take heart from the fact they have not been beaten by Belgium in the last three meetings and took four points from a possible six against Marc Wilmots side in qualifying for this summer’s tournament.
The Dragons main concern could be at the back, as the game against Northern Ireland was the first clean sheet they have kept in their last eight international outings.
Belgium made it through to the quarter-finals with a 4-0 hammering of Hungary in the last-16. The Red Devils took the lead on ten minutes through a header from Toby Alderweireld, but had to wait until the last 12 minutes for the floodgates to open, as Michy Batshuayi, Eden Hazard and Yannick Carrasco all found the net.
Wilmots side have recorded well from an opening group game defeat by Italy to fire home eight goals in their last three outings. Their defensive record is pretty good as well, as they have now kept clean sheets in their last three outings at Euro 2016.
However that defensive solidarity could be hampered by the fact Thomas Vermaelen will be suspended and Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen has been ruled out through injury.
That means that Marc Wilmots is likely to have to use one of the youngsters in the shape of Jordan Lukaku or Jason Denayer, neither of whom have started a Euro 2016. The pair has just 11 international appearances between them, which could be a key factor in this clash.
Everton and Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku has enjoyed mixed fortunes in France, but will consider himself a contender for the golden boot having found the net twice in France so far. The highly-rated forward will be confident of adding to his tally against the Dragons.
Belgium head into the clash as favourites with the bookmakers, but will need all their talented individuals to turn-up. Wales and star player Bale will fancy their chances of getting through having seen the Red Devils defence depleted.
Euro 2016 has now reached the quarter-finals stages and the competition has produced goals galore. A number of players have produced impressive performances in front of goal in France and are contenders for the coveted golden boot award in France:
Here are the leading contenders to win the award:
Antoine Griezmann (France, 3 goals)
The Atletico Madrid forward headed into this tournament on home soil on the back of a stellar campaign in front of goal for Los Colchoneros. The striker opened his scoring tally coming off the bench in the 2-0 win over Albania in the group stages.
The 25-year-old then scored a brace in Le Bleus 2-1 victory over the Republic of Ireland in the last-16 to book his countries place in the quarter-finals. Griezmann is not playing in the same central striking role he performs for Atletico, but rather plays on the right-flank.
The forward will be confident of adding to his goal tally in Les Bleus quarter-finals clash with surprise-package Iceland on Sunday, although the Nordic nation have proven themselves to be stubborn opposition in France.
Gareth Bale (Wales, 3 goals)
Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale was the star of the show in qualifying for the Dragons scoring seven times. He has continued that influential run in France, scoring in all three group games against Slovakia, England and Russia.
For good measure he also collected an assist for the winning goal last time out in the 1-0 last-16 victory over Northern Ireland. No doubt Bale is the star of the Welsh team and he will be looking to his goal tally in a difficult quarter-final clash with Belgium.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal, 2 goals)
Bale’s teammate at club level Ronaldo has been frustrated at France so far, with his only goals of the tournament coming in the final group game against Hungary. Add a penalty miss against Austria into the mix and the 31-year-old has not endured a great tournament so far.
He was credited with an insist for Ricardo Quaresma’s 117 minute extra-time winner against Croatia in the last round, but only goals scored in normal time count towards the golden boot award.
However, Portugal faces Poland in highly tricky quarter-final clash. The Poles have kept three clean sheets from their four games at Euro 2016, so they will not be easy to break down.
Mario Gomez (Germany, 2 goals)
Fiorentina striker Mario Gomez was very much a last resort of a pick for Die Mannschaft boss Joachim Low and in fact started the campaign on the bench. However the experienced forward started in the 1-0 win over Northern Ireland, before scoring in the last-16 in a 3-0 defeat of Slovakia.
Gomez is not much-maligned as he is not easy on the eye, but he is a goal scorer and that is what Germany will need if they are to defeat Italy and make it to the last four of the competition.
Graziano Pelle (Italy, 2 goals)
Southampton striker Graziano Pelle has scored twice at Euro 2016, both of which have been goals to seal Azzurri wins. The first goal came in stoppage-time against Belgium in the opening game and the second came in the last-16 defeat of European champions Spain to seal a 2-0 win.
The former-Feyenoord has striker has only recently became a fixture in the Italian attack, but he will have to be at his best in the quarter-finals against Germany, as the world champions are yet to concede in the competition.
Romelu Lukaku (Belgium, 2 goals)
The highly-rated Everton striker has endured a frustrating campaign so far, scoring in just one of his four appearances in France. Both of his goals in France came in the 3-0 defeat of Republic of Ireland in the group stage.
The 23-year-old has missed a number of good opportunities and questions have been asked about whether he should be leading the line for Marc Wilmots’ team. He looks likely to keep his place in attack for that difficult quarter-final clash with Wales. The former-Chelsea striker will have to improve on his recent performances if he wishes to add to his goal tally in France.
Dmitri Payet (France, 2 goals)
The playmaker experienced a dream debut campaign with West Ham and took his excellent form into the European Championships, scoring in the opening games against Romania and Albania. He was rested against Switzerland from the start, but came off the bench to smash an effort against the bar.
He enjoyed a very rare quiet game in the win over Ireland. However the way he has played on home soil it seems unlikely that he will endure two frustrating games in a row. He will be confident of adding to his tally of two goals and one assist already on home soil.
Jakub Blaszczykowski (Poland, 2 goals)
The former-Dortmund winger has been at the heart of all Poland’s best attacking play. He scored the goal that earned his side a 1-1 draw with Switzerland in the last-16, which lead to a penalty kick victory and a place in the quarter-finals.
With high-profile teammate Robert Lewandowski under-par in France, Blaszczykowski seems to have taken up the teams attacking mantle. The Poles face Portugal in the quarter-finals, team that looked high suspect at the back the group stages. Blaszczykowski could be the man to punish any weaknesses in that Portuguese backline.
Nani (Portugal, 2 goals)
Fenerbahce winger Nani has endured a rather frustrating tournament with his country. The former-Manchester United star scored in his countries opening game against Iceland and also their last group game against Hungary that finished 3-3.
With all eyes on teammate Ronaldo, Nani could very well be the Portuguese side’s secret weapon. A very resilient Polish backline awaits Nani and Co. in the quarter-finals.
With the Poland backline focusing much of their attention on Ronaldo it means that Nani will have more space and room to operate. He seems like an outsider for the award and is highly unpredictable, but he cannot be written-off.
The Euro 2016 football has reached the last eight stage and the games kick-off on tonight, as Poland and Portugal go head-to-head at the Stade Velodrome.
Poland needed a penalty shoot-out to make it past Switzerland in the round of 16. The game ended 1-1 in normal and extra-time. Poland had more possession in the first half and took the lead on 39 minutes.
Winger Kamil Grosicki crossed the ball from the left to the far post to Dortmund star Jakub Blaszczykowski and the winger put the ball through the legs of Swiss ‘keeper Yann Sommer. Switzerland came out with more purpose in the second period.
Vladimir Petkovic’s team hit the bar on 79 minutes through striker Haris Seferovic. However, they were level just three minutes later and in spectacular style. Full-back Stephan Lichtsteiner produced a cross to the 18-yard box and Stoke playmaker Xherdan Shaqiri moved his body in the air to produce a powerful overhead kick.
Neither team could find a breakthrough in extra-time, so the game went to penalties. New Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka blazed his spot-kick well of goal and was the only player miss in the shoot-out. The winning spot-kick was scored by midfielder Poland captain Grzegorz Krychowiak.
The draw against Switzerland was the first time Poland had conceded, as the Poles had kept clean sheets in all three of their group games. The Polish defence will not be easy to breakdown.
Poland will take heart from the fact that they are unbeaten in their last three international games against Portugal and have suffered just one defeat in the last five international meetings with Thursday’s opponents.
At the other end of the pitch Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski has struggled have an impact in France, despite enjoying another prolific campaign in the Bundesliga. Strike-partner Arkadiusz Milik is also highly-rated, but has scored just once at Euro 20016.
The pair will need to produce better displays if Poland are to progress to the semi-finals of the competition. One player that has impressed in France is Blaszczykowski, with the winger scoring twice in the four games so far. He will be hopeful of adding to his tally against a suspect Portugal defence.
Portugal made it through to the quarter-finals by beating Croatia 1-0 in extra-time. The game was a rather tepid affair. Croatia winger Ivan Perisic headed against the woodwork before the deadlock was finally broken with just three minutes of the extra-time period remaining.
Inevitably Cristiano Ronaldo was involved, as the Real Madrid star saw an effort on goal well-saved by Danijel Subasic, only for Ricardo Quaresma to head home the rebound from close-range.
Portugal have been less than convincing in France, having failed to record a win in normal time at Euro 2016, but are somehow still in the quarter-finals of the competition.
Ronaldo has not enjoyed the best of campaigns in France. However, there have been signs of the Los Blancos star returning to form, as he now has two goals and an assist in his last two games. He has a major challenge ahead to add to that tally against a resilient Polish backline.
Poland have a few selections dilemmas heading into this clash. Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny is now fit, but former-Arsenal teammate Lukasz Fabianski is likely to keep his starting role.
In midfield Bartosz Kapustka is back from suspension, although Rennes winger Kamil Grosicki may keep his place in the starting line-up following a decent performance against Switzerland.
Portugal have a few doubts heading into this crucial clash. Full-back Raphael Guerreiro has missed the last few games through injury and he looks set to miss out again, with the experienced Eliseu expected to continue in his stead.
Monaco midfielder Joao Moutinho missed the win over Croatia and is again doubtful for the clash, as is fellow midfielder Andre Gomes, although the Valencia star is expected to recover in time to feature.
This clash is a highly unpredictable one with neither team a big favourite, even if the bookmakers favour the Portuguese.
It promises to be a highly intriguing football clash and with two of the world’s top forwards in the world on display in Cristiano Ronaldo and Robert Lewandowski there could be fireworks in Marseille.