Chris Coleman concedes that Wales were not at their best in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Northern Ireland, but was more than happy to take a scrappy route into the Euro 2016 quarter-finals.
With the likes of Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Joe Ledley at their disposal, Wales were the favourites heading into the last-16 tie at the Parc des Princes in Paris.
However, Northern Ireland were tactically shrewd and stifled Wales throughout the game, and it took a moment of misfortune from veteran defender Gareth McAuley to settle the match, the centre-back turning in Bale’s teasing low centre in the 75th minute.
A gracious Coleman paid tribute to Wales’ opponents after the game and was relieved to come away with the win that continues their dream tournament.
Asked by BBC Sport if the low-key performance put a dampener on the win, Coleman replied: “No, no. I’d rather be standing here in the quarter-finals having not played at our best.
“Credit to Northern Ireland, they are very difficult to play against, they work hard for each other and are dangerous.
“They were probably the better team today, but we showed a lot of courage. We hung in there and showed a different side of our team.”
With the likes of defending champions Spain, Germany, Italy, England and hosts France on the other side of the draw, Wales have a potentially favourable run in their bid to reach an unlikely final.
But Coleman, whose side face either Belgium or Hungary next, is refusing to get ahead of himself.
“We’re not thinking about that [the draw],” he added.
“It was a classic example today. Northern Ireland were underdogs but you wouldn’t think that looking at the game, that’s football.
“We’ll have to plan for next game and we don’t look further than the next 90 minutes, we can’t afford to. We’ll enjoy tonight, though.”
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