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Highlights: Russia 0-3 Wales

Wales swept past Russia with a breathtaking display in their final group game at Euro 2016 to reach the knockout stages of a major tournament for only the second time in their history.

Aaron Ramsey’s beautiful clipped finish put Wales ahead before Neil Taylor scored his first international goal as Chris Coleman’s side seized control with an inspired first-half performance.

There was no let-up in the second half as the irrepressible Gareth Bale struck to become the tournament’s leading scorer with three goals.

England’s goalless draw against Slovakia in Saint-Etienne means Wales progress as Group B winners and will face the third-placed team from Group A, C or D.

News of the England result filtered through to the Toulouse crowd a couple of minutes after the final whistle, adding to the sense of disbelieving euphoria among Wales’ raucous supporters.

Seizing the moment

Wales have scored at least twice as many first-half goals as any other team at Euro 2016

Playing in their first European Championship, Wales take their place in the knockout stages of an international competition for the first time since a goal by Pele saw them beaten by Brazil in the 1958 World Cup quarter-finals.

There was security in the knowledge a draw was probably enough, while even a defeat coupled with an English win against Slovakia could have seen them progress as one of the best third-placed teams.

Yet Coleman and his players did not want to rely on anyone else. With their destiny in their own hands, Wales wanted to take care of business in Toulouse.

They did so in spectacular fashion, overwhelming a ponderous Russia side with one of the most impressive performances in Welsh football history.

History boy Bale

Here are Wales’ shots on target in the first half, including goals from Aaron Ramsey and Neil Taylor. They had 19 shots in the match

Coleman raised a few eyebrows by selecting striker Sam Vokes ahead of Hal Robson-Kanu. The decision, though, paid off handsomely as the Burnley forward provided the central pivot for a rampant attacking display from Wales.

His inclusion allowed Bale to torment Russia’s defence in his roaming role, wreaking havoc as he ran relentlessly at Sergei Ignashevich and Vasili Berezutski, a centre-back pairing with a combined age of 70.

Ramsey revelled in an advanced position similar to Bale’s, with Russia’s high-octane but high-risk pressing game allowing Wales too much space.

Joe Allen exposed those gaps with a brilliant assist for Wales’ opening goal, controlling the ball with a backheel before carving open the Russia defence with a pass for Ramsey, who delicately lifted his finish over the onrushing Igor Akinfeev.

Gareth Bale is the first player to score in all three group games at the European Championship since Ruud van Nistelrooy and Milan Baros in 2004

The second goal came from an unexpected source as Taylor, whose last strike was for Wrexham against Grays Athletic in the Conference in 2010, found himself unmarked at the back post.

His uncertain first effort was blocked by Akinfeev but he converted the rebound.

Leonid Slutsky’s side could not recover, and their elimination was sealed when Bale flicked the ball with the outside of his left boot and into the net despite a touch from Akinfeev.

Man of the match – Aaron Ramsey

This was arguably Aaron Ramsey’s greatest game for Wales – he scored a fine goal and threaded intricate passes at will to pick holes in the Russian defence

What they said

Wales boss Chris Coleman: “The three points are massive for us but the performance was even sweeter than the points.

“My players were brave. I don’t mean without the ball; I mean brave in possession. We were brilliant without the ball against England, but with it, we didn’t play like we know we could.

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Wales play with no fear – Coleman

“I’m absolutely made up for the players. This group are on their way to more success and this is just part of the journey they are on.

“We have to see who we get next but we play with no fear. When we play like that, why should we have any fear?”

The stats you need to know

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Euro 2016: Top-scorer Gareth Bale’s three goals for Wales
  • Gareth Bale is now Wales’ top scorer in major finals (three goals), netting one more than Ivor Allchurch (two, both at the 1958 World Cup).
  • Wales have scored four first-half goals in the competition, two more than any other side.
  • Chris Coleman’s team had nine shots on target in the first half, the most of any side in the first 45 minutes of a Euro 2016 game so far.
  • Neil Taylor’s strike was the first competitive Wales goal which did not involve Gareth Bale or Aaron Ramsey (scoring or assisting) since David Cotterill found the net against Cyprus in October 2014.

What next?

With their country having been absent from major tournaments for 58 years, several of the estimated 20,000 Wales fans would have been forgiven for being content with qualifying for Euro 2016.

However, it has been a constant refrain from Coleman, Bale and others that Wales were not travelling to France to make up the numbers as happy tourists.

Wales are here to defy expectations and they will view their last-16 fixture, whoever it may be against, as an opportunity to provide their hitherto success-starved fans with yet more memorable moments.

Live Text

Match ends, Russia 0, Wales 3.

Second Half ends, Russia 0, Wales 3.

Attempt missed. Artem Dzyuba (Russia) left footed shot from the left side of the box is too high following a corner.

Corner, Russia. Conceded by David Edwards.

Attempt blocked. Igor Smolnikov (Russia) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Artem Dzyuba.

Foul by Simon Church (Wales).

Aleksandr Samedov (Russia) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Attempt missed. Ashley Williams (Wales) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Aaron Ramsey with a cross following a corner.

Corner, Wales. Conceded by Sergei Ignashevich.

Attempt blocked. Aaron Ramsey (Wales) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked.

Foul by Andy King (Wales).

Aleksandr Samedov (Russia) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Attempt missed. Artem Dzyuba (Russia) right footed shot from very close range is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Pavel Mamaev with a cross.

Substitution, Wales. Simon Church replaces Gareth Bale.

Attempt missed. Sergei Ignashevich (Russia) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right from a direct free kick.

Foul by James Chester (Wales).

Aleksandr Kokorin (Russia) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Substitution, Wales. Andy King replaces Joe Ledley because of an injury.

Substitution, Wales. David Edwards replaces Joe Allen.

Foul by Pavel Mamaev (Russia).

Aaron Ramsey (Wales) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Substitution, Russia. Aleksandr Samedov replaces Fedor Smolov.

Goal! Russia 0, Wales 3. Gareth Bale (Wales) left footed shot from the left side of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Aaron Ramsey with a through ball.

Pavel Mamaev (Russia) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Pavel Mamaev (Russia).

Joe Allen (Wales) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Attempt missed. Denis Glushakov (Russia) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.

Attempt missed. Gareth Bale (Wales) left footed shot from long range on the right is high and wide to the right from a direct free kick.

Joe Allen (Wales) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Aleksandr Golovin (Russia).

Foul by Chris Gunter (Wales).

Fedor Smolov (Russia) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Attempt missed. Neil Taylor (Wales) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right following a corner.

Corner, Wales. Conceded by Igor Akinfeev.

Attempt saved. Gareth Bale (Wales) left footed shot from a difficult angle on the left is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Aaron Ramsey with a through ball.

Attempt blocked. Fedor Smolov (Russia) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Aleksandr Kokorin.

Aaron Ramsey (Wales) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Denis Glushakov (Russia).

Substitution, Russia. Aleksandr Golovin replaces Roman Shirokov.

Corner, Wales. Conceded by Aleksei Berezutski.

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Wales had not played at a major tournament finals since 1958

Wales and England are through to the knockout stages of Euro 2016 after their final Group B games.

A fearless Wales side beat Russia 3-0 to top the group at their first European Championship, with England second after a 0-0 draw with Slovakia.

On Tuesday, Northern Ireland will look to join both sides as they face Germany in Paris (17:00 BST).

The top two teams in each of the six groups qualify automatically, plus the best four third-placed sides.

Chris Coleman’s side – led by the tournament’s top scorer Gareth Bale – destroyed a poor Russia to leapfrog England at the top of the group and reach the knockout stage of a major finals for only the second time in their history.

England were frustrated by a resolute Solvakian defence and manager Roy Hodgson was criticised for making six changes – including resting captain Wayne Rooney.

Real Madrid forward Bale, who scored Wales’ third goal against Russia, said: “We said we didn’t want to make the numbers up. Well, we can’t do any more than win the group. We look forward to seeing who we play next.”

Hodgson admitted finishing as runners-up in the group was a “disappointment” but added: “We’re not doomed yet.

“Who is to say the team we will play will be that much stronger? The way we are playing I am not frightened of anybody.”

Who could Wales face?

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Highlights: Russia 0-3 Wales

Wales will play a third-place team from either Group A (Albania), Group D (one from Czech Republic, Croatia or Turkey) or Group C (one from Germany, Poland or Northern Ireland).

That depends on the combination of the four groups which provide the third-placed sides – explained in Uefa’s pre-determined formula below.

Whoever they face, Wales will play at Paris’ Parc des Princes on Saturday at 17:00 BST.

Who could England face?

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Highlights: Slovakia 0-0 England

Finishing as Group B runners-up, England will next face the second-placed team in Group F, in Nice on Monday (20:00 BST).

That could well be Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal – who knocked England out of consecutive tournaments, at Euro 2004 and at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

However, Austria, Hungary and Iceland can all still finish second – with Group F’s final matches to be played on Wednesday.

It is the fourth time England have reached the knockout stages of a European Championship (1996, 2004 and 2012).

Wayne Rooney was sent off as England lost 3-1 on penalties to Portugal in the 2006 World Cup quarter-final

Reaction

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Wales play with no fear – Coleman

Wales boss Chris Coleman: “Even after this tournament is over, this group are on the way to something else. I’m just glad me and the staff are here with them. We have no fear. And after playing like that, why should we?”

Match of the Day presenter and former England striker Gary Lineker tweeted: “Total domination from England without one lucky break. Saving it for the knockout stage, hopefully. Sometimes it’s easier against sides who have a go.”

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We could not have done more – Hodgson

Former Wales midfielder Robbie Savage told BBC Radio 5 live: “On the evidence of tonight, we won’t fear anyone with Gareth Bale in the team and topping the group.”

England goalkeeper Joe Hart: “We all wanted to finish top but we didn’t. We have dominated every corner of the pitch and every Slovakian player will be proud of that result. We are into the next round and nobody will want to play us. I haven’t had anything to do in the whole tournament to be honest. We have been playing very well as a team.”

Gareth Bale posted this post-match picture with Joe Ledley and Wayne Hennessey on Instagram with the caption WAAAAAAAALESS

What about Northern Ireland’s chances?

A draw against world champions Germany would make Northern Ireland mathematically sure of advancing even if they finished third, as they would have a point more than Albania and a better goal difference than Slovakia.

Michael O’Neill’s side would top the group if they win and Poland fail to beat Ukraine in Group C’s other match.

Even defeat may see Northern Ireland advance as one of the best third-place sides, depending on what happens in other groups.

What is to be decided?

France, Wales and Italy have confirmed their places in the last 16 as group winners.

Only Group A and Group B have completed all their matches so far. Switzerland’s draw with France secured their runners-up spot in Group A, while England have ensured progress with second spot in Group B. Spain are certain to qualify from Group D.

The four third-placed teams to go through will be settled for certain once the final group matches are played on Wednesday.

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Ched Evans scored 14 goals in his last 11 games for Sheffield United in the 2011-12 season

Ched Evans, who faces a retrial over rape allegations in October, has joined League One side Chesterfield on a one-year deal.

Former Wales striker Evans was jailed in 2012 for raping a 19-year-old woman, but had his conviction quashed by the Court of Appeal in April.

The 27-year-old, who has always denied the charges against him, was released from jail in October 2014 after serving half of a five-year sentence.

His last professional game was in 2012.

‘Great deal of thought’ to signing

Chesterfield have requested that Evans be given space to concentrate on pre-season training with the club.

“We are delighted to have secured the services of an outstanding footballer, who is now keen to get back to work and score goals,” Chesterfield chairman Dave Allen said.

“[Manager] Danny Wilson knows Ched very well, having previously managed him at Sheffield United. Chris Morgan, our first-team coach, also speaks highly of him from their time together at Bramall Lane.

“Chesterfield Football Club have given a great deal of thought to this signing and following the court’s decision, we are in no doubt that Ched Evans should be welcomed back into his profession as a professional footballer.”

Evans added: “I am very excited and privileged to be resuming my career at Chesterfield and I hope to make a valuable contribution both on and off the pitch for the football club, the fans and the community.”

Retrial set for October

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Ched Evans refused to answer questions as he left court

Evans’ conviction was referred to the Court of Appeal following a 10-month investigation by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), which found new information not raised at his original trial.

CCRC chairman Richard Foster said at the time: “In this case we have identified new material which was not considered by the jury at trial and which in our view might have assisted the defence.

“In those circumstances, it is right and proper for the matter to be before the court so that they can decide whether or not the new information should affect the verdict.”

A panel of three judges then decided at a two-day hearing to allow the retrial, having heard “fresh evidence” from Evans’ lawyers.

Lady Justice Hallett said: “In summary, we have concluded that we must allow the appeal and that it is in the interests of justice to order a retrial.”

Spireites ‘wouldn’t sign him’

The ex-Manchester City, Norwich and Sheffield United striker came close to joining League One side Oldham Athletic in January 2015, before the club pulled out of the deal following threats to their staff and pressure from sponsors.

Evans also had an offer to use the Blades’ training facilities rescinded in November 2014 after more than 170,000 people signed a petition against the move.

Olympic champion Jessica Ennis-Hill asked for her name to be removed from a stand at Bramall Lane if he re-signed for the South Yorkshire side, and three club patrons resigned.

In a BBC survey of League One and League Two clubs following the Latics’ reversal, prior to the conviction being quashed, Chesterfield said in a statement: “Please note that we wouldn’t sign him”.

Evans’ career to date

Ched Evans was the second leading goalscorer in League One in 2011-12, with 29 goals in 36 games

Evans started his career with Premier League side Manchester City, but scored only once in 16 games having made his debut in September 2007.

The St Asaph-born striker had a more successful loan spell at then-Championship club Norwich during the 2007-08 season, and earned his first Wales cap in a 1-0 win over Iceland in May 2008, when he scored his only international goal.

He joined Sheffield United for a £3m fee in 2009, but struggled in his first two seasons with the club, scoring only 13 goals in 74 games.

His form improved dramatically in his final season with the Blades, as he found the net 35 times in 42 appearances, before being jailed six days after his final game – a 3-1 win over Leyton Orient.

Analysis

Chief sports writer Tom Fordyce

Ched Evans last kicked a football as a professional player on Saturday, 14 April 2012.

He scored that afternoon for Sheffield United, his 35th goal of that League One season, but a four-year absence from the game renders much of his old form irrelevant when we come to ask, purely from a sporting perspective, whether Chesterfield have made the right decision.

Have those long months away from intense training, let alone matches themselves, cost him speed, touch, strength and confidence?

How will he cope with being the subject of both intense media interest and inevitable terrace chants?

With his retrial scheduled for early October, Evans has a narrow window in which to remind the world what he was once best known for.

Find all the latest football transfers on our dedicated page.

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