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 rivals England to top their 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 4 best third-placed finishers at the Parc des Princes in Paris on Saturday.
Bale said it had probably been his best match with Wales, who are appearing in their 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.”
Coleman said the Euro 2016 should brace for a lot more from his side.
“I said before that there’s more to come for this group.
“Even after this tournament is over, this group are on the way to something else. I’m just glad me and the staff are here with them. We have no fear. And after playing like that, why should we?” Coleman said.
England must now take on the runners-up of Group F in Nice next Monday. Depending on Group F’s final results on 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 spend 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 host 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. – Justin Davis in Toulouse, Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com