herald

Tuesday 6 December 2016

Bale strikes to put Wales on the brink

Wales' Gareth Bale celebrates his side's win after the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at the GSP Stadium, Cyprus
Wales' Gareth Bale celebrates his side's win after the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at the GSP Stadium, Cyprus

Wales are poised to end their 58-year wait to play at a major tournament after Gareth Bale's late winner on a balmy night in Nicosia.

Bale struck eight minutes from time - his sixth goal in seven games in Euro 2016 qualifying - when he met Jazz Richards' cross with a thumping header to give Cyprus goalkeeper Antonis Georgallides no chance.

The 1-0 triumph puts Wales within touching distance of a place at next summer's European Championship in France - a feat that would be confirmed by beating Israel in Cardiff on Sunday night.

Belgium got their Euro 2016 qualification back on track with a 3-1 victory over Bosnia in Group B, with Manchester City's new record signing Kevin De Bruyne among the scorers.

Edin Dzeko opened the scoring for Bosnia before Marouane Fellaini's thundering header and a sharp turn and shot from De Bruyne gave Belgium a one-goal cushion at halftime.

Eden Hazard won and converted a penalty in the 78th minute to calm home nerves.

Italy needed 69 minutes to break down a stubborn, tenacious Malta before Graziano Pello struck to give them a 1-0 win in their Euro 2016 qualifier.

Italy, without a win in their previous four matches, struggled to find a way through a massed Maltese defence in front of a sparse crowd at the Artemio Franchi stadium.

The win took them top of Group H with 15 points from seven games, one more than Croatia who drew 0-0 in Azerbaijan .

Iceland moved a step closer to clinching a finals berth after a controversial penalty from Gylfi Sigurdsson secured a shock 1-0 victory over 10-man Netherlands.

The referee awarded the spot kick in the 51st minute even though Gregory van der Wiel seemed to win the ball in a challenge with Birkir Bjarnason.

Sigurdsson squeezed the penalty under goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen to take Iceland to the brink of their first major championship finals.

It completed a fairytale double over the Dutch in Group A as Iceland took their points total to 18, two ahead of second-placed Czech Republic.

The Dutch are third on 10 points.

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