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Published: 18:54 | 25/6/16

Wales progress at Northern Ireland's expense

McAuley own-goal enough to decide Paris battle

Wales beat Northern Ireland 1-0 in a tense affair in Paris to progress to the quarter-finals of Euro 2016.

Gareth McAuley turned the ball into his own net - little blame could be attached to the central defender - from an excellent Gareth Bale delivery to send Wales ahead with 15 minutes of the clash remaining.

The Northern Irish pushed forward in numbers in the time that remained but were unable to fashion a decent opportunity to force the game into extra time.

Wales go on to meet the winners of Hungary's encounter with Belgium in the quarter-finals of the tournament in Lille on Friday.

Early on in a first period that was largely dominated by positional discipline and cautious mentalities at Parc des Princes, Stuart Dallas and Jamie Ward both drew good saves from Wayne Hennessey.

For Wales, Aaron Ramsey found the net with a close-range finish, but the Arsenal midfielder was a significant distance offside when Sam Vokes headed the ball down.

Vokes missed a superb chance to give the Welsh the lead during the early exchanges of the second half, heading Ramsey’s fantastic diagonal delivery narrowly off target.

Bale also went close, aiming to net his third successful free-kick of the tournament, with Hennessy producing a superb save to keep out the Real Madrid forward’s dipping dead-ball strike.

Ramsey and Bale were to once again prove invaluable to Wales, as the latter whipped a first-time low cross from his fellow playmaker’s pass, with McAuley turning the ball past Michael McGovern in attempting to deny Hal Robson-Kanu.

Perhaps the greatest disappointment for Northern Ireland, however, was that they were unable to create a final opportunity to stay in the tournament during the remainder of the clash.

While the incredible journey of Michael O’Neill’s men comes to a halt for now, the astounding march of Wales ploughs on, with a potentially explosive quarter-final test on the horizon.

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