Russia 0, Wales 3
Wales hero Gareth Bale hailed the best night of his international career after they routed Russia to pip England to first place in Group B and, in theory, an easier draw for the Euro 2016 knockout stages.
Bale crowned a comprehensive victory with his third goal of the competition – putting him top of the scoring charts – after earlier strikes from midfielder Aaron Ramsey and defender Neil Taylor.
The result in Toulouse lifted Chris Coleman’s men above England – held to a draw by Slovakia – and clinched a place in the knockout rounds of a major tournament for the first time since 1958.
“It’s probably the best performance I’ve been involved in with Wales,” said Real Madrid star Bale.
“To top the group, what more can you ask? We said we didn’t want to make the numbers up. Well, we can’t do any more than win the group. We look forward to seeing who we play next.”
Wales will face a third-placed team from one of three groups in their last 16 tie on Saturday, with Croatia the worst-case scenario but Albania and the Czech Republic more likely.
“As a nation, geographically we’re small, but I think if you’re judging us on passion we’re a continent tonight,” said Coleman.
“The performance was even sweeter than the points. This group of players are on the way to more success, this is just part of the journey.”
Ramsey scored after just 10 minutes when he ran onto Joe Allen’s through-ball and the Arsenal player chipped over Igor Akinfeev.
Swansea left-back Taylor scored his first goal for club or country in six years when he finished at the second attempt.
Ramsey teed up Bale to beat Akinfeev with the outside of his left foot midway through the second half, and coach Leonid Slutski capped a miserable campaign for eliminated Russia by resigning after the final whistle.