Russia 0-3 Wales: Chris Coleman's side top Group B
By Richard Morgan
Last Updated: 21/06/16 8:11am
Gareth Bale starred as Wales beat Russia 3-0 in Toulouse to win Group B and progress to the last 16 of Euro 2016.
Chris Coleman's side made a fast start at the Stadium Municipal, scoring twice inside the opening 20 minutes through Aaron Ramsey and Neil Taylor, before Bale added a third midway through the second half.
As a result, Wales win the group ahead of England - who could only manage a goalless draw with Slovakia in the night's other game - and will now play one of the best third-placed teams on Saturday.
Wales boss Coleman made just one alteration from Thursday's 2-1 loss to England, with Burnley striker Sam Vokes replacing Hal Robson-Kanu in attack.
Meanwhile, Russia rung the changes after a disappointing 2-1 loss to Slovakia in midweek, with manager Leonid Slutsky bringing in four new players, three of them in midfield, as they went in search of a win that would have kept them in the tournament.
However, right from the very off Wales tore into their opponents, winning every 50-50 challenge and attacking Russia with pace, with Bale involved in everything.
The Real Madrid forward wasted little time in testing Russia No 1 Igor Akinfeev with an early shot from the right-hand edge of the box, with Vokes scoring from the rebound, only to be correctly adjudged offside.
That near miss mattered little a few minutes later when Wales opened the scoring thanks to Ramey's 11th goal for his country.
Wales won the ball back in the centre of the park before midfielder Joe Allen released Ramsey with an inch-perfect defence-splitting pass and the Arsenal man kept his cool by dinking the ball over the onrushing Akinfeev.
Wales had doubled their lead less than 10 minutes later through the most unlikely of scorers, Swansea City left-back Taylor, whose first-ever international goal sparked jubilant scenes both in the stands and on the touchline.
Once again Bale was heavily involved, his deflected pass finding its way through to the overlapping Taylor, who was charging into the box.
Despite Akinfeev doing well to keep out Taylor's first effort, the 27-year-old was in the right place at the right time to put the rebound into the empty net for his first goal in six years as Wales took control of the contest.
Wales had further chances to increase their lead before the break, with Bale at the forefront of all their good work, and none more so than on the half-hour mark.
The 26-year-old went on another of his lung-busting solo runs, before slipping Vokes through on goal, only for the increasingly busy Akinfeev to deny the frontman with his legs.
And Bale, who could have had a penalty moments later after being felled by Vasili Berezutski, also went close twice more leading up to half-time as Akinfeev was forced to deal with stinging shots from distance.
However, any Welsh nerves were settled after 67 minutes when Bale finally got the goal his eye-catching display merited.
Chris Gunter charged up the right flank before finding Ramsey and the blond-haired midfielder then picked out the run of Bale, who had no problems lifting the ball over Akinfeev as the forward became the first player to score in all three group games at the Euros since 2004.
Jubilant Wales fans cheered news of England's stalemate as well as their own triumph and Coleman's side will be full of confidence whoever they face at the Parc des Princes on Saturday afternoon.
Russia, meanwhile, have been eliminated after managing only one point from their three games, with Slutsky calling it quits after the match.