(CNN)A red card for France forward Sebastein Vahaamahina swung the pendulum in a seesawing Rugby World Cup quarterfinal as Wales fought back to win 20-19.
Red card costs France as Wales surges to Rugby World Cup semifinal
On 49 minutes, France led 19-10 thanks to a blistering opening half that saw Vahaamahina, Charles Ollivon and Virimii Vakatawa score three first half tries. Aaron Wainwright dotted down for Wales in the first period but there was a clear gulf between the sides at the Oita Stadiium.
That was until Vahaamahina grabbed Wainwright around the neck before elbowing him in the face. South African referee Jaco Peyper had no hesitation in brandishing the red card.
"When we take the red card, we never can control the game," France captain Guilhem Guirado lamented after the match.
Wales rallied and reduced the deficit with a Dan Bigger penalty on the hour mark. Then, just six minutes from the close, Ross Moriarty scored a scrappy try to see Wales take the lead for the first time in the match and grant his nation passage to the World Cup semi finals for the third time in its history.
France traditionally saves its best rugby for World Cups and the first-half of Sunday's game was no exception as Les Bleus were incisive and clinical out the blocks.
"When we play like this we are very impressive," Guirado said. For the first 20 minutes his team was in full gallop.
It scored the opening try on five minutes when Vahaamahina powered over after neat work from his fellow forwards.
Romain Ntamack made a mess of the routine conversion but the two missed points did not look costly at this stage.
Three minutes later France was back on the charge. Daring to be expansive in their own half, the French backs gave the b