Chris Coleman described Wales’ 1-0 Euro 2016 qualifying victory over Belgium as a “huge step forward” as his side moved three points clear at the top of Group B.
Gareth Bale took advantage of a terrible mistake from Radja Nainggolan to score the only goal of the game on his 50th appearance for Wales.
Belgium, who were above Wales on goal difference before Friday’s clash at the Cardiff City Stadium, put Coleman’s side under immense pressure in the second half but lacked a cutting edge.
Marc Wilmots’ men are now second in the group with four games remaining after slumping to their first defeat since the World Cup quarter-final against Argentina almost a year ago.
Wales – five points clear of third-placed Israel – remain on course to qualify for their first major tournament since 1958 and Coleman, who had billed the game as the biggest in his career, was delighted with the manner in which his players got the job done despite not being at their best.
He told Sky Sports: “It wasn’t one of our best performances, but we dug in and that is what we do. We know what Belgium wanted to do to us and we had to deal with it.
“I told them ‘don’t leave anything out there’ and they didn’t.
“We know we’ve got good players, they just needed to be brave tonight. We wanted to get our supporters back onside and be proud of our football team.”
Coleman knows he is in with a great chance of guiding his country to the finals in France next year, but is not getting ahead of himself.
Asked if the victory was a big step towards qualification, he said: “Yeah it is, we can’t deny that.
“We have four games left – two home and two away. But we’ve been here before and fallen away. It’s a step forward, a huge step forward.
“We didn’t play pretty football, we were sensible. We defended like demons and the Welsh public were brilliant.”
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