Neil Evans picks his top moments as Portugal ended Wales’ Euro 2016 fairy tale.
1. Unlucky Colours: Wales lost two games in Euro 2016, both in their change (mainly black) kit. What I couldn’t fathom was why both teams wore their second kits?
2. No ‘Rambo’: It was obvious from the outset that there was a massive, Aaron Ramsey sized hole in the Welsh side. Ramsey’s absence, for me, was the key to Wales’ inability to get past a limited Portuguese side. The whole balance of the side had been disturbed and it showed.
3. Big game nerves: A sterile first half found both sides struggling to find form. For Wales, an early Joe Allen booking left him appearing hesitant and indecisive just when they needed him to be at his best.
4. What a header: Cristiano Ronaldo literally sprung to life in the 50thminute with a towering header to give Portugal the lead, cementing his reputation as one of the finest headers of a ball in the game.
5. Sucker Punch: Just as Wales were reeling from Ronaldo’s header, conceding again within three minutes, effectively ended the contest. Nani turning in Ronaldo’s rather scruffy shot past a wrong footed Wayne Hennessey.
6. One to watch: Renato Sanchez may look older than 19 but he handled a major semi-final with aplomb – definitely a major star in the making.
7. Regrets?: Perhaps, but Chris Coleman’s side left everything out on the pitch. Few players in the Welsh side have big game experience and that showed. Coleman tried everything tactically but never looked like breaching a solid defence.
8. Best of British: For a team that I didn’t expect to get out of a tough group, Wales were fantastic from beginning to end. Coleman said that his team were ‘tired’ and that is understandable after a long campaign.
9. The legacy: With half the nation glued to their televisions, this Welsh team are not only history makers for their achievements on the field but for the indelible mark they have left on the public. If a new crop of Bale’s and Ramsey’s emerge, Euro 2016 will be more than just a one-off.
10. The History Boys: OK, Wales didn’t make the final, but a nation has a football team they can be proud of. One that has broken new ground (going further than any Welsh side before) and laid to rest the ghosts of 1958. Welsh football has new legends and a future to look forward to. Historic in every way.
Diolch yn fawr boys.
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