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Dublin: 10 °C Wednesday 20 February, 2019
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Good evening one and all and welcome to our live coverage of the first-leg of Ireland’s Euro 2016 play-off against Bosnia-Herzegovina.

It may be a two-legged tie but you get the feeling tonight’s result will have a significant bearing on which side will be in France next summer and which one will be watching proceedings from afar.

Kick-off in Zenica is at 7.45pm and we’ll have all the build-up between now and then right here.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the all important team-sheets.

It’s very much as expected from an Irish point of view, although Martin O’Neill has opted for Stephen Ward at left-back ahead of Marc Wilson.

This is how the Boys in Green will line-out at the Bilino Polje Stadium tonight:

Ireland: Randolph, Coleman, Clark, Keogh, Ward, Whelan, McCarthy, Hendrick, Brady, Hoolohan, Murphy.

Here’s the Ireland squad arriving at the ground a little earlier.

Martin O'Neill arrives Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the game. E-mail ryan@the42.ie, tweet @the42_ie, post a message to our Facebook wall, or leave a comment below.

Which way do you see this one going? Do we have a chance?

This is how the hosts are going to line-up. A few familiar faces with Chelsea’s Asmir Begovic and Roma pair Edin Dzeko and Miralem Pjanic all starting.

Bosnia and Herzegovina: Begovic; Spahic, Sunjic, Lulic, Zukanovic, Cocalic, Pjanic, Mujdza, Visca, Ibisevic, Dzeko.

To whet the appetite, here’s a selection of our pre-game offerings:

The atmosphere is building in Zenica but the 880 Ireland fans are getting ‘drowned out’, according to our man on the ground, Ben Blake.

Michael Kennelly and Stephen Discon Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

There is an electric atmosphere inside the compact ground in Zenica – although the choice of pre-match music isn’t exactly sitting comfortably with the locals.

The teams are lining-up in the tunnel. Glenn Whelan is captaining Ireland tonight. The talking is finally over, we’re just a few minutes away from kick-off.

Time for the anthems, with Amhrán na bhFiann first-up.

Cold and foggy evening in Zenica but a calm evening for football. Bosnia are attempting to qualify for their first European Championships and lost their only play-off against Portugal (6-2 on aggregate) in 2011.

German Felix Brych is tonight’s referee as Dzeko and Whelan complete the pre-game formalities.

1Mins

McCarthy plays a ball over the top for Murphy and Šunjić is under pressure but the Ireland striker is penalised for a push in the back.

4Mins

Bright start from Ireland as they look to settle into the contest. Hendrick’s back-heel gives Coleman something to chase and it looks like the Everton man was eased off the ball there but the referee isn’t interested.

5Mins

Martin O’Neill taking up his usual position on the touchline. Hendrick appears to be operating on the right and is dropping deep to give Coleman support in defence.

7Mins

Referee letting a couple of incidents go. As the ball breaks in midfield, Dzeko gets his first opportunity to run at the Ireland defence. He isolates Keogh down the right but after knocking the ball down the touchline, can’t shake off the Derby defender and it’s an Irish goal-kick.

9Mins

Ireland struggling to keep hold of possession in midfield. Wes Hoolahan is looking to get involved by dropping a bit deeper but his touch has just deserted him in these early stages.

The opening ten minutes have been typical of a game of this magnitude. O’Neill will be pleased with how his side have settled.

11Mins

First shot in anger. Ireland are exposed down the right and it’s eventually pulled back to Pjanic. The Roma midfielder takes aim but his effort his high and wide. Ireland can’t afford to give him space like that.

14Mins

Clark gets ahead of Ibišević and bundles the ball out for the first corner of the game. From the resulting set-piece, Zukanovic is unmarked but fails to connect properly and Ireland get away with it.

15Mins

Pjanić is growing into this game and is finding pockets of space between the lines. The 25-year-old has another shot blocked by Keogh and the danger is averted, for now.

16Mins

At the other end, Ward wins a free-kick in a good position. Brady’s delivery is poor but Ward latches onto the loose ball and does well to win a corner.

Brady chips the set-piece in and it’s cleared at the front post.

19Mins

It’s been a lively opening 18 minutes in Zenica but it remains scoreless.

Glenn Whelan with Miralem Pjanic Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

22Mins

A couple of nervy moments in the Irish box.

Firstly, the cross comes in from the right and it falls for Dzeko 12 yards from goal. He tries to turn inside Clark but he stands tall and thwarts the Roma striker.

As you would expect, Bosnia have enjoyed much of the early possession with Pjanić and Zukanovic both having sights on goal. That said, Randolph has yet to be stretched.

25Mins

Chance! Ibisevic fires into the side netting after more patient build-up play from the hosts. Roy Keane is an animated figure on the touchline as he knows Bosnia are beginning to turn the screw.

Ireland have been unable to get their foot on the ball in the last ten minutes.

26Mins

Booking! Stephen Ward is the first in the book as he pulls Višća back after Whelan was beaten on the touchline. Pjanić’s delivery isn’t his best and Ireland stand firm. It’s tight, scrappy and all a little bit disjointed at the moment.

29Mins

A couple of half-chances for Bosnia. Coleman does well to cover at the near post but his clearance only falls to Višća – but his shot is dragged across goal and Randolph is happy to see it out.

29Mins

Better spell of possession for Ireland but, once again, there’s no composure on the ball. Hoolahan looks to get it down and run at the Bosnian defence. He links-up with Brady but the return ball doesn’t find its target and the move breaks down.

32Mins

Hoolahan again is the architect as Ireland grow in stature. He takes control of Ward’s ball beautifully and plays an exquisite pass for Murphy. The striker is unable to get their first but it’s much better from the Boys in Green.

33Mins

Danger at the other end though. After committing numbers forward, Ireland lack bodies in defence and the Coleman’s header clear lacks distance. Zukanovic is there but his effort is straight at Randolph. 33 minutes gone in Zenica and it’s been scrappy but Martin O’Neill will be pleased with how his side have nullified the threat of Bosnia’s main men.

35Mins

Ireland are certainly growing in confidence in possession but Bosnia are doubling-up on Ward down the left and he’s struggling. The offside flag offers the visitors a reprieve on this occasion.

37Mins

Hendrick has been efficient on the ball and he wins a corner out of nothing. The set-piece appears to be a training ground move but Whelan can’t gather and it’s cleared.

40Mins

Just five minutes until the interval and Ireland have done well to quieten this partisan crowd. Defensively, Ireland have been relatively solid but they aren’t offering much of a threat at the other end.

So far, so good but it’s almost like Ireland are just hoping rather than expecting something to happen.

42Mins

Hoolahan’s influence is growing and he’s grown into the game as it’s worn on. He evades the first challenge but is unlucky to be penalised by the German official when he tries to cut inside.

43Mins

Bone-crunching tackle between Clark and Mujdža. The Irish defender wins the ball and it’s the latter who comes off worst. The referee doesn’t see any wrongdoing despite the protestations from the hosts.

Flag 45Mins

Half-time! The referee blows it up right on 45 minutes and it’s scoreless in Zenica!

51Mins

Ireland have defended well in that first period and, all in all, it was a largely encouraging, if not uninspiring, 45 minutes of football.

The left flank is an obvious problem area with Ward already on a booking and being horribly exposed. Bosnia are targeting the left and have had plenty of joy down that sight, particularly as the half wore on.

Chances have been at a premium though and Clark and Keogh have formed a resolute partnership, with the former thwarting Dzeko on more than one occasion.

You can’t see much of a change after the interval but Ireland need to use the ball better and attack with a bit more pace and purpose.

46Mins

We’re back underway! And a heavy fog has just descended on the ground in Zenica. Visibility is now an issue.

49Mins

The fog is becoming an issue and RTÉ’s Tony O’Donoghue, standing at pitch level, says he can’t see the opposite side of the ground.

52Mins

Bosnia make their first change with Vranješ replaced by Mujdža. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to see the ball now and the fog doesn’t appear to be lifting anytime soon.

Clark, meanwhile, does well to get a decisive touch on a dangerous cross. Although he diverts it towards his own goal, Randolph is alert to get down low to his right.

53Mins

Brady whips in an inviting cross from the left and Hendrick comes in off his flank to get above his man but his header loops over the bar.

59Mins

Nothing much to report in this second-half. The game has continued in a similar pattern and Ireland look comfortable at the back.

61Mins

We have no idea where the ball is! It’s somewhere in the Ireland area and Randolph’s bright shirt is the only thing we can see.

According to Tony O’Donoghue, Uefa have told FAI officials that if this game is abandoned tonight, the remaining minutes will be played tomorrow.

62Mins

That was a smart save from Randolph. Lulic gets in behind but the goalkeeper is quickly off his line and he makes a fine stop with his right hand.

In the madness of it all, McClean has been introduced for Hoolahan.

62Mins

Ward is on thin ice. He clatters into Pjanic and the home fans are asking the question of the referee.

64Mins

McClean has been full of energy since his introduction. You wouldn’t expect anything else from the former Derry winger but he needs to help Ward defensively. When the ball is on the opposite side of the pitch, it’s almost impossible to see what’s happening.

64Mins

Looks like Marc Wilson is coming on and you’d presume it will be a straight swap for Ward at left-back. The referee allows the substitution to be made but the fourth official isn’t ready with the board. Roy Keane is not impressed.

66Mins

And Ward makes way for Stoke’s Wilson in a like-for-like swap. It was an uncomfortable evening for Ward as he looked off the pace. Although you can hardly blame him given he’s played just 12 minutes of league football for this season.

72Mins

Višća has a snap-shot and it flies across goal but Randolph, once again, is down smartly. He’s been very impressive between the posts since coming on just before half-time in the 1-0 win over Germany.

72Mins

Biggest cheer of the evening as Djurić is brought on to replace Višća. 18 minutes remaining.

76Mins

Robbie Keane is out warming-up with a little over 15 minutes remaining in Zenica. Apologies for the lack of updates but it’s remarkably difficult to make out the players and the location of the ball. The TV director has opted to use the camera from behind the goal to try and make it easier to see.

78Mins

Harsh decision on McClean for a foul on Dzeko. He gets the ball but the referee adjudges him to have had his studs up and this is very dangerous.

77Mins

But Ireland defend it well and Randolph clears.

Flag 83Mins

GOAL! Bosnia-Herzegovina 0-1 Ireland (Brady) 

Nobody had any idea what happened but Ireland have scored! Brady runs down the left and cuts inside before firing low past Begovic at the near post.

Flag 87Mins

GOAL! Bosnia-Herzegovina 1-1 Ireland (Dzeko) 

Instant reply from the hosts as Dzeko converts a low cross. McClean doesn’t track his man and Vranješ’ cross finds the unmarked striker, who finishes clinically.

87Mins

Martin O’Neill makes a change as Brady is replaced by Aiden McGeady. This game has suddenly come alive.

89Mins

Richard Keogh named man-of-the-match by Jim Beglin on RTÉ. Ireland need to see this out.

89Mins

Four added minutes in Zenica.

91Mins

Ireland running down the clock now. Still 3 minutes remaining.

90Mins

Late opening for Ireland but Šunjić is across to cover.

Flag 90Mins

Full-time! And that’s it. Ireland leave Bosnia with a priceless away goal but there’s a long way to go.

90Mins

It’s all to play for in Dublin but, dare we say it, is it advantage Ireland heading into the second-leg?

Robbie Brady celebrates scoring their first goal Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Thanks for joining us this evening. Plenty of reaction from Zenica to come on The42.

About the author:

Ryan Bailey

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