An own goal proved enough to decide the British Derby, as Wales squeezed past Northern Ireland 1-0 into the Euro 2016 quarter-finals.
The Dragons will take on either Belgium or Hungary in Lille on July 1.
These two British underdogs were unaccustomed to playing in major tournaments, but went head-to-head at the Parc des Princes in Paris. To add to the Derby feeling, the referee was England’s Martin Atkinson. Wales were the top scorers in the group phase with six goals, three of them from Gareth Bale, but Northern Ireland brought Kyle Lafferty back into the starting XI.
Stuart Dallas saw the first shot sting Wayne Hennessy’s gloves, then Aaron Ramsey was offside when toe-poking a downward Sam Vokes header over the line.
Jamie Ward’s strike from distance was palmed over and Northern Ireland seemed more likely to score.
However, on 52 minutes Wales had a great opportunity when Voakes nodded wide from a Ramsey cross and then Michael McGovern had his first real intervention to beat away a ferocious Bale free kick.
It was a game short on quality or incident, but with 15 minutes to go Bale’s cross was whipped in from the left and Gareth McAuley tried to stop it reaching Hal Robson-Kanu, instead prodding it into his own net from six yards.
That was the third own goal of the tournament, more than in any previous European Championships. Northern Ireland poured forward to the end, but were unable to find a goal.
Wales 1-0 Northern Ireland
McAuley og 75 (W)
Wales: Hennessey; Chester, A Williams, Davies; Gunter, Allen, Ledley (J Williams 62), Ramsey, N Taylor; Bale, Vokes (Robson-Kanu 55)
Northern Ireland: McGovern; Hughes, McAuley (Magennis 84), Cathcart, J Evans; Ward (Washington 69), S Davis, C Evans, Norwood (McGinn 79), Dallas; K Lafferty
Ref: Atkinson (ENG)
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