Bale: Wales win as good as Champions League triumph
Bale praises top-class team performance
(Aaron Ramsey 11, Neil Taylor 20, Gareth Bale 67)
Gareth Bale feels Wales have given themselves a Euro 2016 advantage by winning their group on a night he likened to winning the Champions League.
Wales guaranteed their place in the last 16 by beating Russia 3-0 in Toulouse yesterday morning (Singapore time), with Bale sealing victory with his third goal in as many games to become the tournament's top scorer.
And there was an added bonus when England's failure to beat Slovakia saw Wales top the group, even though Chris Coleman's side were the fourth seeds in the section.
It means Wales will now play a best third-placed team at the Parc des Princes in Paris on Sunday, with Albania, Northern Ireland, Czech Republic and Turkey all possible opponents.
Asked if claiming top spot gave Wales a better chance of progressing deep into the tournament, Bale said: "It definitely does, there are no easy games but this might give us a slightly easier game.
"Finishing top is better than second or third.
"It is good for us and we want to concentrate on ourselves and getting it right for the next game."
Bale has won the Champions League twice in three seasons since his £85.3-million ($167m) world record transfer to Real Madrid from Tottenham Hotspur.
But he felt that the intoxicating night at the Stade de Toulouse, where thousands of Wales fans heavily outnumbered their Russian counterparts, was as memorable as anything he had experienced during his career.
"It was an unbelievable occasion, right up there with anything I have done," said Bale.
"Given the pressure of the game, that was one of the best team performances I have ever been a part of.
"We spoke after the England game that we needed to be better in keeping the ball, and we did that.
"Obviously, that created the space that allowed me, Rambo (Aaron Ramsey) and the midfielders to get on the ball more.
"And when you do that, you get the chance to do what we do best."
Bale's manager Chris Coleman admitted that the Real man was not at his best, but still looked like he would find the net.
Said Coleman: "If we're honest, he's probably played a lot better for us - but it looked as if it was a matter of time before he scored...
"I'm immensely proud.
"Nights like tonight, when you see your supporters like that, are just great.
"As a nation, geographically we're small. But for heart, we were a continent tonight."
Ramsey added that Wales had put themselves on the football map.
He said: "We wanted to make a statement, putting Welsh football on the map, to show what we are capable of doing.
"I think we have done that.
"We have shown that we are a good defensive team, but also what a good team we are in possession as well.
"We created loads of opportunities and can be proud of what we have achieved so far." - Wire Services.
“Given the pressure of the game, that was one of the best team performances I have ever been a part of.”
— Wales star Gareth Bale (with Ashley Williams)