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Coleman: We had to win ugly

Wales manager Chris Coleman paid tribute to his opposite number and conceded that his players had been pushed to the limit by Northern Ireland at the Parc des Princes.

Coleman: We had to win ugly
Coleman: We had to win ugly ©Getty Images

Chris Coleman, Wales manager
We didn't really play well at all, which is a credit to Northern Ireland. They make it very difficult for their opponents. We weren't allowed to play our normal game.

It was an ugly win, but who cares? We've had to win differently every time in France, which says a lot about the players. But I feel for Michael [O'Neill, Northern Ireland's manager], who has done a fantastic job. They'll be disappointed but they have done brilliantly. It was a tough game.

We needed team spirit today as we didn't play well. There was so much riding on it and it was going to take a bit of luck, and we got that. We had to stay in the game, we could have lost our way a bit.

With Gareth Bale or Aaron Ramsey on the pitch though, a little bit of genius can change it in seconds. That's what happened.

Bale is clearly a special player, for us he's special not just because of his talent but for what he represents. He's infectious, his mentality, he appreciates what he has around him in this team and they appreciate he is a special talent.

How far can we go? It's hard to say. Whoever we face, Belgium or Hungary, they can cause us different problems but we'll worry about that tomorrow. Tonight we'll enjoy this win.

Bale: moment of quality made the difference

We had no idea about the reaction we were going to get here and in Wales. It's off the chart, incredible. The impact has been great and we're glad to prolong the fans' joy. They have been outstanding.

I told them before to get carried away, to keep dreaming. They are enjoying every minute of it and I hope that continues. Both sets of fans were great today.

Michael O'Neill, Northern Ireland manager
It was a very tight game but I thought we had the better of it. I don't think we deserved to lose. It's difficult to reflect on the tournament right now. But not many people gave us a chance in here and I don't think it would have been undeserved had we got to the last eight.

It's been a fantastic experience, but when it ends like that it's hard. Bale fizzed a great ball across the box. Gareth [McAuley] had to make a split-second decision and it went against us. But Gareth has been a good player here, he's played excellently against some top strikers.

McGovern reflects on 'unbelievable experience'

We knew we couldn't allow ourselves to be counterattacked. We did that, we stifled Wales in the middle of the park. We were keeping Bale and Ramsey quiet and Wales struggled for momentum. I thought we look comfortable. I was a bit disappointed with the time-wasting at the end, but that's what they did. We couldn't have asked any more of the players.

We were fantastic tactically. Jonny Evans was magnificent against Bale. The shape of the team was good and gave us a foundation to attack. We changed the shape as we felt Ramsey was a threat. Russia played very open [in Wales's 3-0 win] but Corey Evans did a great job against Ramsey. It's a credit that the players have been able to implement different tactical approaches.

If you stop Bale you go a long way to stopping Wales. But if I was going to go out to anyone I'm glad it's Chris [Coleman]. I wish him well. They could go far. 

Yes, magnificent again. They’ve thoroughly enjoyed the journey as much as us and I think everybody is just sad to see it end today. 

Gareth Bale, man of the match

We knew it was going to be an ugly match, obviously no disrespect to Ireland, but they make it difficult to play, we knew that from the start. We knew up top we weren’t going to get a lot of the ball, there’s not much space.

The team’s the most important thing, we worked hard, we did everything we could. We knew a goal would nick the game and thankfully it came to us. You can’t ask for any more and it’s incredible. 

The manager told us [at half-time] just to move the ball with a bit more pace. We knew what to do, it was just that the pitch dried out and they didn’t water it a lot, so we had to keep moving the ball, make them tired, grind them down, and ultimately we did that and we forced them into the mistake.

The support is incredible again. They turn out non-stop, they don’t stop singing, they keep getting behind us and obviously the fans at home. We’ll keep fighting for them, we’ll keep trying to make them proud and keep giving them something to cheer about. 

Steven Davies, Northern Ireland captain

We obviously put everything into it. It wasn’t meant to be our day, I don’t think. But we gave it everything, and we can’t have any regrets.

I thought first half we definitely had the better chances. Of course you’re going to have to take one of these, but I don’t think there was a lot in the game. 

Disappointed in the manner, obviously, that they scored. Big G doesn’t deserve that, because he’s been excellent. 

There’s no blame in any way. We gave everything we had. We’re obviously devastated but it’s been a great journey. We can take a lot from the experience.  

The fans were magnificent again. They’ve thoroughly enjoyed the journey as much as us and I think everybody is just sad to see it end today. 

Michael McGovern, Northern Ireland goalkeeper

I thought we passed it better, I thought we had the better chances. They had the free kick from Bale in the second half, and then obviously the goal. So they got a bit of fortune with that. It’s a great ball in from Bale, don’t get me wrong, but there’s not much Gareth [McAuley] can do.