“Why not?” got here Connor Roberts’ reply when requested, minutes after his purpose had put the knockout phases in view for Wales, whether or not the workforce may subsequent pull off the unthinkable: defeat Italy, unbeaten in 29 matches and on a run of 31 unanswered objectives, in Rome to high Group A. However first, that they had to drink in the euphoria. “It’s a Wednesday night time however pour your self a pleasant glass of wine and luxuriate in it,” was the defender’s message to supporters in Baku and past.
Just a few sore heads alongside the promenade steered that they had executed that and extra, with followers up early for a constitution flight again to Cardif. At one lodge, supporters had taken over the flipchart in the bar, scrawling ‘We’re all occurring a European tour’ and ‘Don’t Take Me House’ in block capitals. If Wales high the group, they may head to Wembley. In the event that they end second, it is going to be a visit to Amsterdam, with Finland or Russia the probably opponents. Whether it is third place, Seville, Bucharest or Glasgow are the attainable venues. There are a number of ifs and buts, however Wales will take some stopping.
A fearless and fierce efficiency towards Turkey, lit up by Aaron Ramsey’s nonchalant management and end from Gareth Bale’s flighted cross, evoked recollections of Wales’ run to the semi-finals at Euro 2016 and breathed life into this marketing campaign. At full-time, Bale, as captain, gathered the gamers in a huddle. “He advised us what all of us knew: that we’re an incredible workforce, that he loves our togetherness and that the workforce spirit we now have may be very distinctive,” says the defender Chris Mepham. “You noticed in the 2016 marketing campaign that it could actually take you very far and there may be no motive why it can’t be the similar this yr. We’ll go to Rome and take the recreation to them.”
Wales fly to Rome on Friday night and upon departure it ought to really feel a job effectively executed, even when the actuality is that they have received just one recreation. Tasked with taking part in greater than 3,000 miles from dwelling whereas different dwelling nations are in a position to lean on dwelling comforts introduced no finish of challenges. There have been late nights – Wales have been engaged on UK timings in Azerbaijan, as an alternative of adapting to the three-hour time distinction, and so they have educated in the searing afternoon solar to put together for the warmth confronted at kick-off on Wednesday. On the night time, how they rose to the event. “We knew there’d be an excellent quantity of [Turkey] followers right here,” says Mepham. “We felt the environment however credit score to ourselves, we handled it rather well. It exhibits we will come away from dwelling and win like this towards an excellent Turkish facet. We now have nothing to worry going ahead now.”
Wales reworked their match in 90 minutes. They had been lucky to escape with some extent towards Switzerland of their opening recreation however towards Turkey a youthful squad confirmed maturity to thrive. Wales seemed harmful each time they poured ahead, attacking Turkey from all angles. Daniel James was a menace on the left, Bale again to his finest on the proper. Down the center the unselfish Kieffer Moore solid a risk the Turkey defence by no means received to grips with.
Ramsey, specifically, was dynamite. He put in arguably his finest efficiency since qualifying for this match towards Hungary two years in the past; some supporters would argue since that iconic quarter-final victory towards Belgium in Lille. “After I play for Wales I simply say to myself: ‘Simply give the ball to the good gamers,’” says Roberts, whose self-deprecating character is typical of the down-to-earth perspective throughout the Wales squad. “I do know the place my lane is, I strive to keep in it. I strive to give it to Rambo and Gaz. On nights like this they’re price their weight in gold – and that’s in all probability lots of gold. To win man of the match after lacking a penalty is an honest effort. They need to carry us, take us on the ship and do all we will to go so far as we will.”
The Turkey captain, Burak Yilmaz, was responsible of lacking a second-half sitter however Wales, in contrast to towards Switzerland, by no means seemed flustered. “At half-time, we had been saying to one another in the dressing room: strive not to sink, strive not make it a recreation of assault v defence,” Roberts stated. “We had to rise up to it and be counted. It was a completely completely different kind of recreation in the second half. We had been resilient, we performed for the badge and for all of the individuals again dwelling. It was unimaginable.”
Ben Davies and Joe Morrell made last-ditch clearances, Joe Rodon was imperious in the coronary heart of defence, after which there was one other scrapbook of fantastic saves from Danny Ward, who has not performed a league recreation for greater than 4 years. If something sums up the Wales spirit, it was the sight of Roberts, a right-back, bursting into the six-yard field in the 94th minute to put the recreation past doubt. Onwards to Rome, then. Wales will no doubt be written off however that’s the manner they prefer it. “No worry, no stress,” says the midfielder Joe Allen. “We’re the underdogs going into it however that’s the kind of state of affairs we take pleasure in.”