By Jake Davies
- Portugal beat Wales to advance to the Euro 2016 Final in Paris
- Cristiano Ronaldo’s header put Portugal in front
- Nani sealed the victory for the Portuguese
LYON, FRANCE – Wales crashed out of the European Championships in a 2-0 defeat to Portugal in Lyon on Wednesday.
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It was the biggest match in the history of Welsh football, but ultimately Wales were outclassed by a better footballing side on the night – and that was Portugal.
Chris Coleman’s men fancied their chances going into this match, despite the embarrassment of riches that Portugal had at their disposal in comparison to a tenacious group of players representing Wales.
The first half was an extremely positive 45 minutes of football for Wales, as they remained strong, resolute and prevented the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Nani and Renato Sanches from getting the vital first goal in a tactically thought-out game of football.
The Welsh journey came to an abrupt end when Real Madrid star Ronaldo leaped higher than any of the Wales defenders and guided a header past the Wales goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey.
The game became an uphill battle after Ronaldo’s goal in the 50th minute as it forced Wales to move away from their original game plan, forcing them to penetrate the Portuguese defence rather than relying solely on counter-attacking football.
Nani redirected a Ronaldo shot to reaffirm Portugal’s stranglehold on proceedings, which prompted the Wales manager Coleman to respond efficiently – he introduced three attack-minded players to try and salvage the game once and for all.
Ultimately, Wales were restricted to shots from long distance as they did not really produce anything spectacular or notable in the final third. Star man Gareth Bale tested Portugal’s goalkeeper Rui Patricio with long range attempts, but conclusively, Ronaldo stole the show for the Portuguese and consequently proved the difference in this match up.
With that decisive header, Ronaldo equals the all-time scoring record at European Championships. The original record was held by France’s legendary striker Michel Platini, who scored nine goals at the prestigious European major competition.
Aaron Ramsey was a huge miss for Wales. His energetic and tireless style of play would have given Wales that extra incentive and motivation to drive forward, but subsequently it was not to be for the Welsh supporters in Lyon.
The players, the manager and the supporters can leave Euro 2016 with a positive frame of mind for the future. It cannot be understated the effect an outstanding result like this means for the reputation of football in Wales. The acknowledgement of a hardworking team defying many stern tests that was put in front of them, yet they found a way to surpass those obstacles up to the semi-final stage.
Now Wales have to learn from this special experience and maintain the core values that guided them to the last four of the European Championships.
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