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Wales 3, Belgium 1: Wales Attacker Slots a Ball Into the Net and a Team Into History

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Wales’s players celebrated after they upset Belgium, the No. 2 team in the world, on Friday.

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Philippe Huguen/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

VILLENEUVE D’ASCQ, France — When a forward receives the ball in front of the goal, there are so many things that can happen as the defense converges. A slip. A stumble. A hurried shot wide. An excited blast over.

Sometimes, though, there is a bit of whimsy, a bit of flair. Sometimes, there is creativity and charisma. Sometimes, there is magic.

Friday night was one of those times. Hal Robson-Kanu, a Wales attacker, took a pass with his back to the net and, even in the caldron of a European Championships quarterfinal match, delivered himself, and his team, into history. His goal just before the hour — in which he shucked off three defenders before ripping a shot past the goalkeeper from 10 yards out — was the difference as Wales, playing in its first Euros and its first major tournament since the 1958 World Cup, beat Belgium, 3-1, to advance to the semifinals.

“You dream about nights like this,” said Chris…

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