Back

Euro 2016 Heroes and Villains: Bale inspires Wales, Rooney’s record

Qualification for next summer’s Euro 2016 in France reached an exciting stage, as many nations moved a step closer to booking their slot at the tournament, while others continued to falter in their groups.

Here are Coral’s Heroes and Villains from enthralling qualifying fixtures seven and eight. Do you agree with our selections?

Heroes

Gareth Bale
The Real Madrid attacking star once again proved his true talent on the international stage, with his late thundering header earning all three points against Cyprus and helping Wales edge closer to qualification.

Soccer - UEFA Euro 2016 - Qualifying - Group B - Cyprus v Wales - GSP Stadium

Bale and his potential history-making teammates couldn’t secure the victory over Israel which would have guaranteed their place in France, having to settle for a goalless draw, but they sit in a strong position to reach their first major tournament since 1958 nevertheless.

Chris Coleman’s men are now 50/1 to incredibly go all the way next summer with the world’s most expensive player in their ranks.

Wayne Rooney
Despite a shadow of uncertainty still lingering over his eventual England legacy, Manchester United and England skipper made more history in his long-standing career, equalling his country’s all-time scoring charts alongside Sir Bobby Charlton.

The Red Devils striker now sits level with the Old Trafford legend on 49 goals each, after dispatching a penalty in a 6-0 victory over minnows San Marino – a win which assured Roy Hodgson’s men of a place at Euro 2016.

Soccer - UEFA Euro 2016 - Qualifying - Group E - San Marino v England - Stadio Olimpico di Serravalle

Iceland
A goalless draw with Kazakhstan has never been celebrated with as much passion before! That was until Iceland secured that very result, a stalemate which saw them qualify for their first ever European finals, causing a frenzy of jubilant scenes in Reykjavik.

The defiant Icelandic squad top Group B and booked their position in December’s Euro 2016 draw, impressively qualifying early ahead of giants Netherlands, Turkey and Czech Republic. A Truly remarkable feat for this courageous nation.

Villains

Dutch demise
The Netherlands recently replaced former boss Guus Hiddink with Danny Blind in a managerial switch they hoped would also revert form and fortunes within the Dutch set-up, but that hasn’t been the case.

Soccer - UEFA Euro 2016 - Qualifying - Group A - Netherlands v Turkey - Amsterdam Arena

Usually one of the deadliest footballing nations in any competition has endured a huge downfall in Group A, now sitting in fourth place and on the verge of missing out both an automatic qualifying place and a play-off spot.

Clockwork Orange now must begin to tick again if any chances of reaching France are to remain realistic, after a damaging 1-0 defeat to Iceland and a potentially fatal 3-0 thrashing at the hands of Turkey.

Struggling Scots
After dispatching rivals Republic of Ireland earlier in qualifying, Scotland looked capable of going all the way and booking their slot among the top nations in France, but a blip for Gordon Strachan’s men has saw familiar hopes possibly dashed.

Georgia were the nation that inflicted the decisive defeat on Scotland in their failed Euro 2008 qualifying attempts, and they could have done the same this time out, having earned a 1-0 triumph on home turf.

Strachan

De Rossi rage
Roma’s stalwart midfield enforcer Daniele De Rossi has a reputation for losing his cool, especially on the international stage, and the Italy star continued to add to his ever-growing list of red cards for club and country.

After putting away the decisive penalty to earn an eventual three points for his nation, in a 1-0 victory over Bulgaria, De Rossi then aggressively clashed with Iliyan Mitsanski as both sides ended with 10 men.

The experienced Serie A midfielder will now miss the important away encounter against Azerbaijan, though Italy sit comfortably at the top of Group H and are 14/1 to triumph overall in France next summer.