Bale makes it 3 goals in 3 games

Bale makes it 3 goals in 3 games

June 22, 2016
Wales’ Gareth Bale (R) scores his side’s third goal during their Euro 2016 Group B match against Russia in Toulouse, France, Monday. — AP
Wales’ Gareth Bale (R) scores his side’s third goal during their Euro 2016 Group B match against Russia in Toulouse, France, Monday. — AP

TOULOUSE, France — Gareth Bale scored in his third straight game at Euro 2016 to guide Wales to a 3-0 win over Russia and then reveled at getting ahead of rival England to top its group.

England could only manage a frustrating goalless draw against Slovakia and dropped to second place in Group B.

Aaron Ramsey and Neil Taylor also scored in Wales’ easy win in Toulouse against a limp Russian side whose campaign has been tainted by its roughhouse fans.

In the last 16, Wales will play one of the four best third-placed finishers at the Parc des Princes in Paris Saturday.

Bale said it had probably been his best match with Wales, which is appearing in its first European Championship Finals.

“The performance was probably the best I’ve been involved in,” he said. “We started very well, we didn’t feel too nervous at the start and were very confident,” said Bale.

“To top the group, it is a dream for all of us, we said we didn’t want to just make up the numbers and we can’t do more than we have.”

England must now take on the runner-up of Group F in Nice next Monday.
Depending on Group F’s final results Wednesday it could throw up a clash against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal.

Wales came into the competition bursting with confidence. Coleman has inspired an underacheiving group to support Bale as he tears through opposing defenses.

After two free-kick goals against Slovakia and England, the Real Madrid forward did it again against Russia.

Arsenal’s Ramsey put the ball behind the ineffective Russian defense to Bale who pushed the ball past goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev.

The game in Toulouse started with drama in the stadium when police arrested Russian far-right football fan leader Alexander Shprygin who had sneaked back into the country two days after being expelled over fan violence.

The rot started on the field in the 11th minute. A brilliant Joe Allen ball through the middle set up Ramsey and the peroxide blonde-haired midfielder confidently lifted the ball over Akinfeev.

Russia manager Leonid Slutsky spent much of the match grabbing at his hair in frustration. Wales gave him plenty of reason. Slutsky said after that another manager would have to be in place when Russia hosts the 2018 World Cup.

On 20 minutes, Bale wove through the Russian defense and fed the ball to Taylor, whose last goal was in 2010.

Left free on the left-hand side of the penalty area with only Akinfeev to beat, his first shot hit the goalkeeper but he made no mistake with the second.

England fans suffered another night of frustration after seeing their side dominate but held to a 1-1 draw by Slovakia in Marseille.

With Prince William among the fans watching from the stands, manager Roy Hodgson made six changes to the team, starting strikers Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge, who came on to score in the 2-1 win over Wales, and leaving skipper Wayne Rooney among the replacements.

Vardy squandered two clear chances of England’s nine first-half attempts on goal to Slovakia’s single effort.

He fired over early on, then had his shot blocked by goalkeeper Matus Kozacik in a one-on-one after winning a sprint against Slovakia captain Martin Skrtel.

Only a fine tackle from right-back Peter Pekarik denied Sturridge at the near post in the opening 10 minutes. And Adam Lallana was denied by Kozacik’s reflex save with half an hour gone.

A mix-up between center-back Chris Smalling and goalkeeper Joe Hart allowed Slovakia winger Robert Mak a half-chance.

But only the slightest of deflections off Kozacik’s shoulder blocked Nathan Clyne’s shot.

There was a big cheer from England fans when Rooney came on for Jack Wilshire with 56 minutes gone. He was a constant menace but the pressure came to nothing.

June 22, 2016