Liverpool’s Danny Ward and Joe Allen were left deflated as Wales crashed out of the Euro 2016 semi-finals after defeat to Portugal.
Chris Coleman led his side valiantly throughout their first major tournament, confounding expectations to line up a semi-final clash with Portugal on Wednesday night.
With a place in Sunday’s final up for grabs, Coleman was forced to plan without key players Ben Davies and Aaron Ramsey, but Allen was among those available for selection at the Stade de Lyon.
Wales started the night brightly, producing a number of promising openings, largely due to the energy of Gareth Bale.
But after having the upper hand for much of the first half, Wales were cut open five minutes after the interval.
Rising to meet an inch-perfect corner, Cristiano Ronaldo powered a header past Wayne Hennessey, before new Valencia forward Nani made it 2-0 just three minutes later.
Wales’ inexperience began to show after Nani’s strike, with a number of passes misplaced, and Coleman’s options were slim.
Portugal sealed their place in the final with this victory, but both Allen and Ward can be proud of their accomplishments.
They will now be given three weeks’ holiday by Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, before returning to pre-season training ahead of the 2016/17 campaign—with Germany midfielder Emre Can the only Reds player left at the tournament.
Can and England U19s winger Sheyi Ojo are set to miss much of Liverpool’s pre-season schedule, which begins away to Tranmere Rovers on Friday night.
Allen may be in line for a move away from Merseyside this summer, with both Sevilla and Swansea City interested in securing the signature of one of the standout players of Euro 2016.
Meanwhile, Ward is set to join Huddersfield Town on loan for the season, with Liverpool also set to offer the young goalkeeper a new, long-term contract.