The world’s most expensive footballer grabbed the headlines for Wales on the night, but it was a genuine team effort from Chris Coleman’s side to defeat Belgium 1-0 and move three points clear at the summit of Euro 2016 qualification Group B.
Welsh chances of qualifying for a first major tournament since the 1958 World Cup have never looked in better shape courtesy of Gareth Bale’s first-half strike which earned victory over previous group leaders Belgium in Cardiff.
Coleman’s Red Dragons have now made the best ever to start to a major qualification campaign in the country’s history, going six games unbeaten and amassing 14 points in the process.
With Israel in third position now trailing the Welsh by five points and only four matches left to complete, the prospects of Bale and co arriving in France for next year’s finals are very strong.
This is especially true give the expansion of the process to allow 24 teams to contest the finals, meaning the top two in each group now qualify automatically, while there are additional spots for the best third-place teams and eight play-off winners.
“We’re embracing the pressure,” said Coleman, who was the first Wales manager to lose his first four matches in charge. “It’s a good pressure to have – we’ve earned it.
“We’re top of the group now with four games to go. The players and fans deserve to enjoy it because they’ve come through a lot, but there’s a lot more to go through yet.”
Wales begin their crucial stretch of autumn qualifiers away against fourth-placed Cyprus in September, looking for another victory having defeated them 2-1 in Cardiff.
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