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Bale puts Wales on cusp of history while Dutch disaster continues

| 04.09.2015
SPORTSBOOK ODDS

Gareth Bale’s ferocious header helped dispatch Cyprus 1-0 and put Wales within touching distance of qualifying for Euro 2016, their first major tournament since 1958, while the Netherlands’ disastrous spell continued in a potentially fatal defeat to Iceland.

Chris Coleman’s Welsh Dragons now sit in pole position of Group B, ahead of rivals Belgium, and know three points against Israel will secure a historic qualification, with the Bale-inspired nation 13/8 with Coral to end 2015 ranked higher than England in the official FIFA standings.

The hero once again was the world’s most expensive star Bale, as he struck his sixth goal in seven qualifying outings to edge Wales close to a place in France next summer.

“We’ve never done it so I’m guessing it’s going to be hard,” stated Bale. “But this group is focused, we really know what we need to do and hopefully we can deliver on Sunday.

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

“It would probably be the best thing we’ve achieved. If we can get across the line it’ll be an amazing thing, not just for us but the whole nation and the whole of Welsh football.

“We know what’s coming. All out attention has been focused on the Cyprus game, we haven’t thought about the Israel game at all.

“That’s the good thing about this team, we haven’t taken our eyes off the ball once.”

The Welsh had not gained a victory in Cyprus since 1992, but Bale’s bullet header with only eight minutes remaining on the clock earned a potentially historic three points, after jumping highest to connect with Jazz Richards’ pinpoint cross.

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

Belgium were seen as clear favourites to rally to a Group B victory, but Bale’s heroics have saw their chances of doing so knocked back, and the Red Devils are now 13/8 to finish ahead of a determined Wales at the summit.

Meanwhile, the Netherlands’ chances of automatic qualification suffered a hammer blow, as Danny Blind’s Dutchmen stumbled to a 1-0 loss at the hands of Iceland. Bruno Martins Indi was shown a red card for clashing with Kolbeinn Sigthorsson in the first period, as Swansea City playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson netted the decisive second-half penalty.

The Orange Clockwork haven’t been ticking in their Group A attempts at all, having also been toppled by Iceland 2-0 in Reykjavik, and now sit six points behind Czech Republic and a further two off their recent conquerors in top spot.

Netherlands Iceland Euro Soccer

Third place would be enough for a play-off place, but Blind’s stumbling nation sit only a point above fourth-placed Turkey, with the Czech Republic having strengthened their position in second by toppling Kazakhstan 2-1.

Elsewhere, Southampton sharpshooter Graziano Pelle struck in the second-half for Italy to secure his country a narrow 1-0 triumph over Malta in Group H, while their main rivals for top spot Croatia were held to a goalless stalemate by Azerbaijan.

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Author

Lee Gormley

Lee joined the Coral team in 2014 after studying at Leeds Trinity University, having moved across the water from Ireland, and has plenty of industry experience from his time with various news outlets in both England and Northern Ireland. After graduating with a BA Honours degree in Sports Journalism, he has since become an important member of the talented sports desk, passionately covering boxing, football and snooker, among many other sports. Lee is also a massive Manchester United and Republic of Ireland fan, but curbs any bias during his work, and outside of his job can be found regularly taking part in sport himself, such as boxing, GAA and football.