Football

Bale: It's not me versus Ronaldo

Gareth Bale insists the Euro 2016 semi-final between Wales and Portugal is not about him and Real Madrid teammate Cristiano Ronaldo.

Wales stormed into the last four of a major championship for the first time with a magnificent 3-1 victory over Belgium yesterday morning (Singapore time).

They will now meet Ronaldo's Portugal in Lyon on Thursday morning with a place in the final of Euro 2016 at stake.

Much of the focus will be on Bale and Ronaldo - two of the most expensive players in football history - but the Welshman says he does not care about their private battle and says he is only interested in creating more history for his country.

"It's Portugal versus Wales, nothing more," said Bale, when asked about coming up against Ronaldo at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais.

"It's in our hands now, but we can't afford to look past the semi-final. We just have to keep doing what we've been doing and we'll stick to that."

Wales' only previous taste of a major tournament, the 1958 World Cup in Sweden, saw them reach the quarter-final stage before losing 1-0 to Brazil and a teenager called Pele.

But Chris Coleman's current side eclipsed that achievement by overturning Radja Nainggolan's thunderous early strike in Lille with goals from skipper Ashley Williams, Hal Robson-Kanu and Sam Vokes.

PROUD

"We're very proud at what the 1958 team did," said Bale.

"They had some amazing players. But we've always spoken that this is our time to shine, and we've definitely done that.

"It's going to be an amazing day (semi-final), we've already made history and, hopefully, we can make more."

Belgium are ranked second in the world, but Bale's pre-match suggestion that Wales are their bogey team now looks even more accurate.

Wales are unbeaten in four games against the Red Devils over the last two-and-a-half years, having drawn twice in Brussels and beaten them in Euro qualifying just over a year ago.

But, whereas that Bale-inspired 1-0 win in Cardiff was often a backs-to-the-wall exercise, this was a convincing victory which fully deserved and underlined the improvement made under manager Coleman.

"It's just incredible. We knew we had it in us, we obviously had a game plan," said Bale.

"We felt we knew Belgium well from previous games and we executed the plan amazingly.

"We covered every blade of glass and definitely deserved the win." 
- PA Sport.

Four for the best Welsh sporting achievements

1. Ian Woosnam (Golf)

Ian Woosnam stood tall at the demanding Augusta course in 1991. He went to the final hole tied for the lead with two-time Masters champion Tom Watson and Spaniard Jose Maria Olazabal. However, both his co-leaders dropped shots on the 18th. Despite being the world No. 1 going into the Major, the organisers hadn't figured him as a contender.

2. Colin Jackson (Athletics)

Hurdler Colin Jackson enjoyed his greatest moment in the 110 metres hurdles final at the 1993 world championships in Stuttgart. The then 26-year-old Cardiff-born athlete, whose talent had shone early with silver at the 1988 Olympics, destroyed a class field to take gold and break Roger Kingdom's world record.

3. Wales' rugby team

Wales' last victory over the mighty All Blacks came 29 matches and 63 years ago in Cardiff in 1953. It came in adverse circumstances, trailing 8-3 and with wing Gareth Griffiths carrying on despite a dislocated shoulder, while skipper Bleddyn Williams soldiered on despite torn thigh ligaments. Ken Jones gave the faithful Welsh choirs a reason to cheer, as he nipped in to touch down and turn the match on its head for a 13-8 win.

4. Joe Calzaghe (Boxing)

Joe Calzaghe's finest moment came in a dominant display by the WBO light middleweight champion - on his return from a broken hand - for the IBF title against hot American favourite Jeff Lacy in a 2006 bout that was tagged "Judgment Day". Calzaghe, then 33 and had been WBO champion for nine years, won every round against his previously unbeaten American opponent. - AFP.

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