It's the worst moment of my career - Coleman
Published 17/06/2016 | 02:30
With only 34 minutes remaining, Wales were poised to beat England and win Group B with a match to spare.
With three minutes left, they were effectively certain of qualifying for the last 16 of what is their first major international tournament since 1958. Yet the cold, hard reality as they returned last night from Lens to their seaside base in Dinard is that their participation in Euro 2016 could quite conceivably be no more than a memory by Tuesday morning.
It was little wonder, then, that manager Chris Coleman should describe the sight of Daniel Sturridge stabbing his winning injury-time goal past the near post of Wayne Hennessey as the worst moment of his entire managerial career.
"I'd have to say yes," said Coleman. "I can't say I've felt that disappointed too many times in my career as when that goal went in. You can't tell me my players deserved that. Wayne Hennessey didn't have to pull off save after save so it was gut-wrenching for the players and our supporters. Absolutely devastated. But you have to show a bit of mettle, a bit of steel, and bounce back. The players' effort and courage were fantastic."
A draw would be almost certain to send Wales through but defeat, coupled with a Slovakia win or draw against England, would mean the end of their European Championship. "I am very proud of everybody," said Wales goalscorer Gareth Bale. "If we go out, but have given 100 per cent, then we can't do any more. We are disappointed at the moment, but we are strong inside and the tournament is not over yet. We will go into the next game with even more strength. We keep fighting all the way."