Royals duo to go head-to-head in ParisThere will definitely be at least one Reading player in the quarter-final of this year’s European Championships… but there will definitely be at least one going home in the last 16, too.
That is because Chris Gunter and his Welsh colleagues will meet Ollie Norwood and the Ulstermen at the Parc des Princes in Paris, with a place in the final eight at stake!
Both players have played 90 minutes in all three of their group games for their respective countries – so it’s more than likely that the names of Gunter and Norwood will be on either side of the teamsheet for the 5pm kick-off on Saturday.
Wales earned their place by topping Group B on Monday evening – a 3-0 demolition of Russia assured them of their spot. Northern Ireland faced a wait to see if they would join the Dragons – the Green and White Army finished third in Group C as they were beaten 1-0 in their final pool game by Germany, but later that evening the Group D standings fell in their favour to ensure their passage.
It has been a topsy-turvy group campaign for Wales. Hal Robson-Kanu’s late winner against Slovakia got their tournament off to a perfect start, but defeat to England in the final seconds was a set-back. However their response against Russia was perfect; they steamrollered their Russian counterparts to qualify for the next round.
Northern Ireland’s grouping looked extremely daunting – and a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Poland was far from an ideal start. But their second outing against Ukraine ended with a 2-0 victory, with Ollie grabbing the assist for the first; that two-goal margin meant their 1-0 reverse at the hands of Germany in their last game resulted in an all-square goal-difference. Albania and Turkey also finished their groups placed third with 3 points, but both with a -2 goal-difference and they can pack their bags to return home.
There can only be one winner when they meet in Paris; a quarter-final match against either Belgium or Hungary in Lille is the prize. But the victor could be joined at the quarter-final stage by Stephen Quinn and Ireland; their remarkable win against Italy on Wednesday evening has seen them drawn against France for the next stage!