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The Red Wall roared on Wales from Rome to the Rhondda on Sunday as they secured their place in the knockout stages of the Euros.
Fans in pubs, homes and gardens sang their hearts out as the nation came to a standstill to cheer the Dragons home during a nail-biting rear guard action against Italy in the final group A game.
The team was hailed as heroes as they stood ‘together stronger’ to repel waves of Italian attacks and had to dig deep after going down to 10 men following a red card.
Despite losing to a single goal, Wales finished the group in second place to give them automatic qualification to the last 16.
Wales fans were delighted to see their country progress to the last-16
It was hoped thousands of fans might be able to make the trip to Rome but strict quarantine rules put many off and in the end only a few hundred hardy souls made it to the Italian capital.
But like all good Welsh sports fans they were in fine voice and managed to make themselves heard in the cavernous Stadio Olimpico belting out the national anthem and remaining raucous throughout.
It was the same up and down the land back home from Cardiff to Swansea and Llanelli to Carmarthen in the south and west, and Conwy to Caernarfon and Wrexham to Rhyl in the north and east.
After the final whistle First Minister Mark Drakeford tweeted: “It didn’t go our way tonight but we’re through. You’ve already made us all so proud, and you’ve only just got started. Bring on the next round!”
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Restrictions meant that 20,000 tickets were issued for the game at the iconic 70,000 capacity stadium but a pocket of red shirts and bucket hats were clearly visible.
Chants of “Don’t take me home” echoed through the stadium – despite the Italians dominating for most of the game.
In Rome was Jake Horton, 27, of Cardiff, said: “There were two clusters of Welsh fans in the stadium and we did our best to get our voices heard.
“It was a weird game -I’ve never celebrated a loss before but we had one eye on the Switzerland game and at the end we knew it was enough to get us through.
A few hundred fans were lucky enough to make the trip to Italy
(Image: POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
“We’re celebrating with a few beers in an Irish bar that’s run by a Welshman so it should be good.”
Matthew Roberts, of Haverfordwest said: “That was the best bad result we could have hoped for – it feels strange celebrating a loss but we held on bravely.
“There weren’t as many of us in Rome as we would have liked but we hope to have made ourselves proud.
Daniel Jones, of Anglesey, said: “That was so brave. We were hanging on and fighting for our lives out there. This team makes me so proud to be Welsh.
“We were out-gunned and out-numbered for most of the game but we showed so much heart.”
Meanwhile back in the Land Of My Fathers, thousands of fans who could not to make the trip due to travel requirements were still happy to cheer from home or the pub.
Martyn Thomas, 35, of Pontypridd, said: “It’s been a bit different this Euros as last time I was in France for the games.
“Now I’m watching it back home with my wife but no one is cheering louder than me. Hopefully they could hear me in Rome.
Charlotte Collins, aged eight, watching it at home in Wrexham with her dad Tom, said: “It was a difficult game but so what, we are through! Go on Wales!”
There were some nerve-wracking moments as Italy dominated the encounter
Marketing executive Marc Davies, 36, had tickets to see Wales in Baku but has had to settle for watching all three qualifiers at home in Dinas Powys.
“Unfortunately the travel restriction dashed my hopes of experiencing it in person. Despite this, my sense in pride in cheering on the side has never been greater.
“We team have instilled a strong sense of optimism and bond between all Welsh supporters across the nation – proving together we are stronger!”
Wales will now face the runners up in Group B on Saturday in Amsterdam as they try to repeat the historic success of Euro 2016 in France when they reached the semi-finals.
Around 350 fans were able to watch from an unofficial Fan Zone set up at Vale Sports Area in Penarth near Cardiff with groups of six gathered around tables to watch on the big screens.
Jenny Rees, of Cardiff, said: “That was so nail-biting in the second half we were just hoping that we could keep it to one goal. “This team have made us so proud.”
Many more fans took to Twitter to share their delight in the team’s progress.
There were joyous scenes at the full-time whistle
Rugby legend Scott Quinnell tweeted: “Congratulations @FAWales Knockouts here we go again. Huge hart and pride against a fantastic @azzurri ”
Labour MP Kevin Brennan wrote: “Well done Wales @Cymru amazing achievement to get through to the knockout stages again – and Rourke’s Drift stuff with 10 men v Italy”
Former goalkeeper Neville Southall simply posted a picture of three Wales flags with the hashtag “#TogetherStronger”
BBC presenter Jake Humphrey tweeted: “So pleased for Wales. Make no mistake, this is the legacy of Gary Speed who revolutionised the Welsh approach and professionalism. *
“A decade ago they were 117th in the world. Now 17th and into the knockout stages in back to back tournaments.”
One fan who did manage to make it inside the stadium in Rome was Tim Hartley, from Cardiff, who proudly showed his solidarity with the Italians by revealing they saved a home fan from ejection.
He wrote: “The stewards came up to throw our new Italian friend out of our section. We said no.”
Welsh supporters will now be dreaming of a repeat of 2016's heroics
And fan Owen Hathaway took to Twitter to voice his pride in the side writing: “The more you think about it the more you appreciate how this team have uniquely captured a sense of national identity. “The language, the unity, the sense of small nation big ambitions.
“You really don’t need to like football or even sport to feel a sense of collective pride.”
Earlier in the day Manchester United winger Daniel James spoke about the importance of the Red Wall to the team.
He explained the players are aware of the “incredible” reaction of Wales fans back home to their Euro 2020 win over Turkey
Manchester United winger James has spoken to his friends and family who have been sent videos of the fans’ joyous support for the team.
Daisy Johnson, 16, of Wrexham, had tickets for Rome with her dad Simon, 46, but they watched the game back home.
She said: "I think we played very well considering we had a team of 10 men and we're playing against arguably one of the best teams in the Euros, gutted I can't be there but happy with a loss for the first time ever!"