Euro 2016 play-off: Ireland v Bosnia

Ireland book their place in France with 2-0 (agg 3-1) win over Bosnia at the Aviva Stadium

Ruaidhrí Croke Mon, Nov 16
LIVE: Euro 2016 play-off: Ireland v Bosnia

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  • Good evening and welcome to The Irish Times liveblog of the second leg of Ireland’s Euro 2016 play-off with Bosnia and Herzegovina. My name is Ruaidhrí Croke and I’ll be keeping you updated this evening on what could be Ireland’s third play-off success. Or a sixth play-off defeat. You can get involved by using the ‘Contact Us’ button at the top of the blog or you can get me on Twitter @Ruaidhri_Croke.

    So, out of the Zenica fog, Robbie Brady’s second half strike emerged as a shining pearl of hope for Ireland to take back to Dublin in the hope of turning the France 2016 dream into reality.

    Edin Dzeko’s late equaliser put a dent in that dream somewhat but Ireland are, marginally, in the driving seat in this tie.

    Make no mistake though; tonight’s Balkan visitors are fully confident that they will be on that plane to France next summer, at the expense of Martin O’Neill’s team. The general Bosnian media reaction to Friday’s game was that Ireland dragged the home side down to their level and that Bosnia are a significantly better team.

    And with good reason are those the headlines coming out of Sarajevo. This is a team that has four representatives in this year’s Champions League, as opposed to none in the Ireland squad. It’s a team that is desperate to bring hope to a country still struggling to escape from the shadow of one of history’s bloodiest wars. By all means, if Ireland qualify this evening they will have done so as underdogs. But isn’t that what Irish football teams do best?

    Indeed Ireland are unbeaten in their last eight home games, with five wins, three draws and five clean sheets in the process.

    The sickening events that unfolded in Paris on Friday evening quickly put a simple football match into perspective but they also showed how important sport is. The ecstatic highs and heart-breaking lows which sport can invoke in people all over the world are what many live for. Let’s hope that tonight this Ireland team can conjure up those emotions and book a place at next year’s European Championships.

    Kick-off is at 7.45pm, team news is next.

  • Ireland: Randolph, Coleman, Keogh, Clark, Brady; McCarthy, Whelan, Hendrick, Walters, Hoolahan; Murphy.
    Substitutes: Forde, Henderson; Wilson, O’Shea, Christie, Ward, McGeady, McClean, Gibson, Arter, Long, Keane.

    Bosnia and Herzegovina: Begovic; Spahic, Kolasinac, Vranjes, Zukanovic; Lulic, Cocalic, Medunjanin, Pjanic, Visca, Dzeko.
    Substitutes: Buric, Sehic, Bicakcic, Sunjic, Besic, Susic, Hajrovic, Salihovic, Ibisevic, Hodzic, Djuric.

    So O’Neill makes one change from the team that played on Friday – bringing in Jonathan Walters in place of Stephen Ward as Robbie Brady drops back to left-back. Neither Shane Long, nor John O’Shea have recovered in time to start but one would imagine that Long will be seen at some stage.

    We’re now just 45 minutes from kick-off!

  • The Bosnian fans are filling up the Havlock Square end rapidly and already making some noise. They did have to return a number of tickets however, having not sold out their full allocation. The home fans are streaming in at a somewhat slower pace but the ground should be full by kick-off.
  • The televisions in the press box have just been showing Robbie Keane exchanging a few verbals with a member of the Bosnian coaching staff during the warm-up. Unfortunately the lack of volume meant we couldn't quite see what was going on but Keane didn't look happy.  
  • There's the video of that exchange. Hard to tell what it's about but Keane looked quite annoyed. But it's nearly time for business, the teams are on the pitch, national anthems coming up!

  • Tonight's match is - almost - a sell-out according to offical ticket sales but the ground isn't near full yet. There's a decent atmosphere so far though.
  • The national anthems are done and we're ready to go! The atmosphere is really building now, especially from the Bosnian fans behind the goal.  
  • 1 min - We're underway!  (Ireland 0-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina)
  • 2 mins - The atmosphere has become a little heated as a number of the Bosnia fans shouted during the minute's silence for the victims of the Paris attacks. Ireland fans then began to boo those visiting fans. Not what anyone wanted. But, onto the football and Ireland have had an early free kick from the right wing easily cleared as Robbie Brady's cross failed to beat the first man. (Ireland 0-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina)  
  • 4 mins -  The Bosnian right-back, Vranjes, was left with acres of space to run into down his flank but Brady did excellently to outpace him and win a throw-in.  (Ireland 0-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina)  
  • 6 mins - Ireland look comfortable here and are holding possession well. Most of the Bosnian possession has come down the right wing in the form of Lulic and Vranjes but Brady looks up to the test.  (Ireland 0-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina)  
  • 10 mins - Chance for Ireland! Excellent defending from James McCarthy saw him win the ball from Lulic in the right-back position. He fed Hoolahan who shifted it across to the left before threading Brady in behind the full-back. The Norwich played looked to find Walters at the back post but Spahic got there just ahead of him. From the corner Bosnia easily clear. An encouraging start from Ireland though!  (Ireland 0-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina)  
  • 14 mins - Good defending from Ireland averts what looked like a possibly dangerous attack from Bosnia. Pjanic cut inside from the right and got behind Hendrick before squaring but Glenn Whelan was able to clear for a corner. From the set piece Whelan again was first to it to get rid.  (Ireland 0-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina)  
  • 16 mins - The game is coming to life now and it's all down the left for Ireland. Brady played a lovely one-two with Hendrick to get in behind and cross. The delivery was good but not good enough too beat the head of Kolasinac who cleared for a corner. Brady's delivery was poor and it was easily cleared. The left-back uis proving to be a dangerous outlet so far though.  (Ireland 0-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina)  
  • 17 mins - Ireland are very much in the ascendancy now. A long ball forward from Keogh finds the head of Walters in the box. With his back to goal he knocks it back to the edge of the area but Hendrick didn't quite react fast enough to get a shot away.  (Ireland 0-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina)  
  • 20 mins - As always Walters is proving very effective up front. The latest long ball lands on his chest and he turns before feeding Hendrick on the left. The Derby County man is hacked down by Spahic, who earns a yellow card in the process and Ireland win a free-kick. But again Brady's delivery is poor and easily cleared.  (Ireland 0-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina)  
  • 23 mins - PENALTY FOR IRELAND!
  • 25 mins - The roof is in danger of coming off the Aviva Stadium! Murphy cut into the box on the right hand side and went to cross but his pass struck off the arm of Zukanovic. It was a handball but one he'll be disappointed to have given against him. He's received a yellow card for his troubles and Walters steps up to smash home!  (Ireland 1-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina)  
  • 29 mins - Evem more drama now as the atmosphere on the pitch reaches boiling point. Hoolahan has been hacked down by Spahic who is very lucky to be on the pitch. Both sets of players got involved in some handbags but the referee has sorted it and the Ireland free-kick comes to nothing.  (Ireland 1-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina)  
  • 31 mins - Ireland are completely on top now and Bosnia look rattled. They're struggling to string any number of passes together and Ireland look threatening. This is a fantastic performance so far from O'Neill's men.  (Ireland 1-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina, Walters 24')  
  • 33 mins - Jeff Hendrick has been immense so far, both defensively and in linking up with Hoolahan and Walters. Working back to the edge of his box he's just taken the ball off the toe of Dzeko to relieve the pressure and allow Ireland get back in shape.  (Ireland 1-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina, Walters 24')  
  • 35 mins - A chance goes abegging for Bosnia. A long ball forward finds the head of Dzeko who nods it down to the on-rushing Medunjanin but from 18 yards but he fires over.  (Ireland 1-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina, Walters 24')  
  • 36 mins - Chance for Ireland from nothing! A back pass to Begovic is chased down by Hoolahan who manages to block the goalkeeper's clearance but the Chelsea man wins the race to the loose ball. Excellent work from Hoolahan.  (Ireland 1-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina, Walters 24')  
  • 38 mins - The effectiveness of Jon Walters is something else. Every ball up towards him he manages to get in front of the defender and control, allowing others to get up around him. Ireland must keep their composure though, Bosnia only need one goal to force extra-time don't forget.  (Ireland 1-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina, Walters 24')  
  • 40 mins - A dangerous ball in from Vranjes on the right is flicked away bu Clark before Walters completes the job. That was dangerous. That right flank has been the most effective for Bosnia again tonight, as it was on Friday.  (Ireland 1-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina, Walters 24')  
  • 42 mins - More great link up play from Brady, Hoolahan, Whelan and Hendrick almost forces a chance. Brady went down the left before turning back and playing it inside the Hoolahan. The former Shelbourne man twist one way, then the other before slipping in Whelan who found Hendrick. He crossed towards Murphy at the back post but Begovic was able to gather.  (Ireland 1-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina, Walters 24')  
  • 44 mins - Spahic commits yet another foul but, somehow, manages to avoid a second booking! That's his third offence since the yellow card and he is very, very lucky to still be on the pitch. Again the set piece comes to nothing for Ireland - that's probably been the only disappointing factor in this half.  (Ireland 1-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina, Walters 24')  
  • 45+1 mins -  HALF TIME - Whelan does what he does best - breaking up another Bosnian attack - and with that the referee blows the whistle for half-time. An excellent half from Ireland and they take a well deserved lead into the break.  (Ireland 1-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina, Walters 24')
  • Looking back at the penalty it was certainly a dubious decision and Bosnia will feel very hard done by there. Having said that, Spahic has been very lucky to avoid a second yellow so the referee has evened it out somwhat.
  • A valid point from Kevin Kilbane. Justice for the hand of Thierry? We'll know in just over 45 minutes. I wonder is Bosnia will ask to be the 25th team in the tournament if it finishes 1-0...  
  • The teams are back on the pitch to a thunderous reception. Are you ready for 45 minutes of nail chewing? If not, get ready. This is going to be tense.
  • 46 mins - The second half is underway as Bosnia replace Cocalic with Everton's Muhamed Besic.  (Ireland 1-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina, Walters 24')  
  • 48 mins - The visitng fans make a good point. On the pitch a long range effort from Medunjanin is easily saved by Randolph.  (Ireland 1-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina, Walters 24')  
  • 50 mins - From the right Vranjes finds Lulic in the box. He swivels and shoots but his effort is blocked. He picks it up again though and is fouled by Brady just outside the box. From the set piece Medunjanin delivers an excellent ball but Clark rises to flick it out for a corner. The next delivery comes to nothing and Ireland clear. Already Bosnia are looking more dangerous.  (Ireland 1-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina, Walters 24')  
  • 52 mins - Ireland are sitting so deep now - not a good sign. Just a moment ago Bosnia had the ball around halfway and the highest Ireland player was Daryl Muprhy who was only about 30 yards from his own goal. It's a dangerous game the home side are playing here.  (Ireland 1-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina, Walters 24')  
  • 55 mins - Bosnia are really coming into this now. Lulic again gets in behind on the right but Brady does well to stop the cross. With that O'Neill has replaced Hoolahan with James McClean and Murphy with Shane Long.  (Ireland 1-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina, Walters 24')  
  • 57 mins - Ireland are so deep now. Long will give the legs to chase up front but they're inviting pressure from Bosnia.  (Ireland 1-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina, Walters 24')  
  • 58 mins - A looping ball forward isn't dealt with by Zukanovic, the ball bouncing off his arm and Ireland get a free-kick 25 yards out in an excellent position. Brady takes but fires it straight into the wall. A missed opportunity.  (Ireland 1-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina, Walters 24')  
  • 59 mins - Lulic yet again gets in behind on the right wing and is fouled by McClean just at the end line. The West Brom winger is booked and Bosnia have a good chance here.  (Ireland 1-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina, Walters 24')  
  • 60 mins - A cleverly worked free from the visitors sees Pjanic peel away from the back post and drop into space on the penalty spot. The cross finds his right foot but three Irish bodies throw themselves in the way to clear the danger. This is very, very nervy now.  (Ireland 1-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina, Walters 24')  
  • 64 mins - I'm not sure Shane Long has touched the ball since coming on as Bosnia heap more and more pressure on the Ireland defence. A poor header from Keogh is dealt with by Coleman under pressure as he passes back to Randolph to allow the goalkeeper kick long.  (Ireland 1-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina, Walters 24')  
  • 65 mins - Brendan Cox writes in that all we need now is some fog so we can release Robbie Brady into the thick of it. I'm going to be honest here Brendan, it doesn't look like it's coming. It's a perfectly clear evening in south Dublin. With that McClean chases down a long ball and wins a corner. Ireland with a rare foray into the Bosnian box.  (Ireland 1-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina, Walters 24')  
  • 67 mins - The corner again comes to nothing with Hendrick firing a follow up shot wide. Ireland are 23 minutes away from Euro 2016.  (Ireland 1-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina, Walters 24')  
  • 69 mins - Fantastic defending from McClean earns him a kick in the face but he comes away with the ball and relieves the pressure. Bosnia have replaced Medunjanin with Djuric as Grainne Brady writes in from the Cayman Islands, saying every minute feels like an hour. It does here too except it's a lot colder.  (Ireland 1-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina, Walters 24')  
  • 72 mins - Walters won a free-kick on the right after getting a kick in the guts from Spahic who, somehow, is still on the pitch. Brady sends in a fantastic delivery which Vranjes fails to clear, the ball falling at the feet of Walters at the back post. He still had a lot to do though and do it he did, guiding the ball past Begovic at the near post to put Ireland 2-0 up and 3-1 up on aggregate!  (Ireland 2-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina, Walters 24', 71')  
  • 74 mins - That came completely against the run of play but no one will care. And it's exactly what Walters deserves. He's been superb throughout the whole qualifying campaign and has been again tonight. Fantastic stuff from the Stoke striker. Ireland just need to keep the head now for 15 minutes.  (Ireland 2-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina, Walters 24', 71')  
  • 76 mins - What a chance for Shane Long to seal it! He races onto a long ball on the right wing and cuts inside. He's one-on-one with the goalkeeper but Vranjes just did enough to get back and put the pressure on as Long fires wide.  (Ireland 2-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina, Walters 24', 71')  
  • 78 mins - Bosnia are laying siege to the Ireland box now as they desperately look for the two goals that will spoil the party and send them to France. Ireland are holding strong though as Randolph punches a corner to safety.    (Ireland 2-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina, Walters 24', 71')  
  • 80 mins - Lulic is replaced by Ibisivic. The Lazio player looked threatening tonight but Brady dealt with him well.    (Ireland 2-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina, Walters 24', 71')  
  • 84 mins - Yet more handbags from the Bosnians as Zukanovic reacts to a foul by Long. The Sampdoria defender squared up to the Ireland striker and received a yellow card for his troubles.  (Ireland 2-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina, Walters 24', 71')  
  • 88 mins - More fantastic defending from Ciaran Clark diverts another Bosnia attack. Dzeko's knock-down landed in the six yard box but Clark threw himself into it to clear for a corner. From the set piece the ball dropped yards from the Ireland goal but Randolph was down quick to dive on it. Just two minutes of normal time left now. Ireland are on the verge.  (Ireland 2-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina, Walters 24', 71')  
  • 89 mins - Pjanic's latest delivery into the box is headed straight up into the air but Randolph claims again and Ireland clear. We're nearly there!  (Ireland 2-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina, Walters 24', 71')  
  • 90 mins - John O'Shea replaces Glenn Whelan for the three minutes of injury time which have just been added on. Three minutes to suffer through and then the party can begin!  (Ireland 2-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina, Walters 24', 71')  
  • Lansdowne Road is absolutely bouncing! What a performance that was from Ireland and, in particular, Jonathan Walters. He's been immense throughout the whole campaign and deserved to be the man to send Ireland to France. From Tblisi, to Gelsenkirchen, to Glasgow and through the fog of Zenica, Ireland have made it to Euro 2016. Grainne Brady writes in to say that there won't be a tap of work done in the Cayman Islands for a week. With that thought I'll leave you! Thanks for reading along and stay tuned to for reports and plenty of reaction. Bye!