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Dublin: 9°C Tuesday 13 April 2021
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Late brilliance from Brady leaves it all to play for as Ireland claim valuable away goal

The Norwich man scored a wonderful opener before Bosnia-Herzegovina hit back through Edin Dzeko.

Brady celebrates his goal in front of travelling Irish fans.
Brady celebrates his goal in front of travelling Irish fans.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Ben Blake reports from Bosnia-Herzegovina

Bosnia-Herzegovina 1 Ireland 1

A MOMENT OF individual magic from Robbie Brady saw Ireland come away from their Euro 2016 play-off opener at Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Bilino Polja Stadium with a spirited 1-1 draw. 

Poor visibility in the second half contributed to a sloppy game of football, but Dubliner Brady struck a superb goal on 81 minutes.

Edin Dzeko replied four minutes later but Martin O’Neill will be happy to take the advantage of an away-goal to Dublin for Monday’s Euro 2016 second leg.

Hampered by a raft of injuries as well as suspensions to John O’Shea and Jon Walters, O’Neill uncharacteristically went with a starting line-up that many would consider his strongest, given the circumstances.

Perhaps the one surprise was the inclusion of left full-back Stephen Ward over Stoke City’s Marc Wilson, as the Burnley defender has played just 100 minutes of club football all season.

Meanwhile, Glenn Whelan was handed the captain’s armband on his 69th senior appearance.

As expected, Bosnia boss Mehmed Baždarević brought captain and talisman Edin Dzeko into the team to partner Vedad Ibišević in attack but Deportivo La Coruna midfielder Haris Medunjanin was left on the bench.

The two teams stand for the National Anthems The teams line up for the national anthems. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Ireland began with a 4-5-1 formation, setting up primarily not to concede with Murphy leading the line and it was predictably nervy in the early stages, with neither team able to get into any sort of rhythm.

Miralem Pjanic was tagged as a danger man in the build-up and talented the Roma midfielder created the first effort of the night.

Picking the ball up in the centre of the field, he sent Menus Mujdža down the right flank, before receiving a pass back and blazing his effort over the bar on 10 minutes.

Moments later, Ireland were handed a let-off as Ervin Zukanovic failed to make sufficient connection with his header after being picked out from a corner.

Robbie Brady then won Ireland’s first corner but, after taking it short, the same player lost possession to Dzeko and was lucky that Pjanic’s through-ball to Senad Lulic was mis-controlled.

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It was the home side who continued to create half-chances and Mujdža’s cross was redirected into the side-netting by Dzeko on 21 minutes.

With Irish attacks restricted, Bosnia’s best play was coming down their opponent’s left side and Ward was the first name into referee Felix Brych’s book for a late challenge on Višća.

Great play from Dzeko saw the Roma striker get away from James McCarthy and again feed Višća. His delivery was met by the head of Zukanovic but Randolph made a routine save.

Glenn Whelan with Miralem Pjanic Bosnian midfielder Miralem Pjanic and Ireland's Glenn Whelan. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

The football became incredibly difficult to play, and see, as the stadium was engulfed in thick smoke during the half-time break.

Despite the extremely poor visibility, Clark had to make a goal-saving tackle to deny Dzeko after a strong run by the ever-lively Višća.

Down the other end, Hendrick latched onto Brady’s high ball and headed onto the roof of Begovic’s net.

The Derby County midfielder then very nearly inadvertently teed up Lulić moments later. His attempted clearance fell to Lulic, and Randolph needed to be at his best to make himself big then smothered the loose ball.

In a bid to shore up that left side, O’Neill brought on James McClean and Marc Wilson just after the hour mark, withdrawing Hoolahan and Ward while moving Brady in behind Murphy.

The switch proved crucial as Brady went on a solo run and cut inside onto his stronger left foot before rifling the ball past Begovic and into the bottom corner on 81 minutes.

The lead was short-lived, however, as Dzeko turned a cut-back beyond Randolph four minutes later — leaving it all to play in three days’ time.

BOSNIA: Begović, Spahić, Šunjić, Lulić (Hajrovic 88′), Zukanovic, Cocalić, Pjanić, Mujdža (Vranješ  51′), Višća (Djurić 73′), Ibišević, Džeko (c).

IRELAND: Randolph, Coleman, Clark, Keogh, Ward (Wilson 67′), Whelan (c), McCarthy, Hendrick, Brady (McGeady 86′), Hoolohan (McClean 60′), Murphy.

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About the author:

Ben Blake

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