Wales swept past Russia with a breathtaking display in their final group game at Euro 2016 to reach the knockout stages of a major tournament for only the second time in their history.
Aaron Ramsey’s beautiful clipped finish put Wales ahead before Neil Taylor scored his first international goal as Chris Coleman’s side seized control with an inspired first-half performance.
There was no let-up in the second half as the irrepressible Gareth Bale struck to become the tournament’s leading scorer with three goals.
England’s goalless draw against Slovakia in Saint-Etienne means Wales progress as Group B winners and will face the third-placed team from Group A, C or D.
News of the England result filtered through to the Toulouse crowd a couple of minutes after the final whistle, adding to the sense of disbelieving euphoria among Wales’ raucous supporters.
What an amazing way to do it – Bale
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Seizing the moment
Wales fans celebrate a goal against Russia
Wales have scored at least twice as many first-half goals as any other team at Euro 2016
Playing in their first European Championship, Wales take their place in the knockout stages of an international competition for the first time since a goal by Pele saw them beaten by Brazil in the 1958 World Cup quarter-finals.
There was security in the knowledge a draw was probably enough, while even a defeat coupled with an English win against Slovakia could have seen them progress as one of the best third-placed teams.
Yet Coleman and his players did not want to rely on anyone else. With their destiny in their own hands, Wales wanted to take care of business in Toulouse.
They did so in spectacular fashion, overwhelming a ponderous Russia side with one of the most impressive performances in Welsh football history.
History boy Bale
Wales shots on target graphic
Here are Wales’ shots on target in the first half, including goals from Aaron Ramsey and Neil Taylor. They had 19 shots in the match
Coleman raised a few eyebrows by selecting striker Sam Vokes ahead of Hal Robson-Kanu. The decision, though, paid off handsomely as the Burnley forward provided the central pivot for a rampant attacking display from Wales.
His inclusion allowed Bale to torment Russia’s defence in his roaming role, wreaking havoc as he ran relentlessly at Sergei Ignashevich and Vasili Berezutski, a centre-back pairing with a combined age of 70.
Ramsey revelled in an advanced position similar to Bale’s, with Russia’s high-octane but high-risk pressing game allowing Wales too much space.
Joe Allen exposed those gaps with a brilliant assist for Wales’ opening goal, controlling the ball with a backheel before carving open the Russia defence with a pass for Ramsey, who delicately lifted his finish over the onrushing Igor Akinfeev.
Gareth Bale is the first player to score in all three group games at the European Championship since Ruud van Nistelrooy and Milan Baros in 2004
The second goal came from an unexpected source as Taylor, whose last strike was for Wrexham against Grays Athletic in the Conference in 2010, found himself unmarked at the back post.
His uncertain first effort was blocked by Akinfeev but he converted the rebound.
Leonid Slutsky’s side could not recover, and their elimination was sealed when Bale flicked the ball with the outside of his left boot and into the net despite a touch from Akinfeev.
Man of the match – Aaron Ramsey