Wales lose in Bosnia but still reach Euro 2016 finals
A first international goal from Milan Djuric and Vedad Ibisevic’s late strike ended Wales’ unbeaten record in Euro 2016 qualifying Group B end at the hands of Bosnia and Herzegovina, but Chris Coleman saw his side reach the finals anyway as other results went in their favour.
Cyprus’ 2-1 win in Israel confirmed the Dragons advanced to the tournament held in France next summer alongside Belgium, and the disappointment of losing in Zenica is thus of no consequence.
Bosnia left injury doubt and star striker Edin Dzeko, on loan from Manchester City at Roma, on the bench, while there were also missing sidelined left back Sead Kolasinac and suspended Everton utility man Muhamed Besic.
Chelsea goalkeeper Asmir Begovic sealed a shut-out with key Wales duo Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey failing to really test him. Coleman, in the Dragons dugout, made two changes in midfield, welcoming back both Joe Allen and Joe Ledley.
A drab first-half saw Edin Visca go close when Ben Davies slipped, allowing Miralem Pjanic to thread one through to the winger. Ramsey, up the other end, fired a free-kick off target.
The Arsenal man’s trickery just before the break looked to have teed up Hal Robson-Kanu for a tap-in on the slide, but a raised flag dampened any celebrations.
Committed challenges went flying in, though the destiny of both Bosnia and the Welsh was heavily influence in Israel. Bale did his level best to seize the moment himself, but lashed over on Begovic’s near post while off-balance.
Djuric headed home 20 minutes from time when a Pjanic free-kick was allowed to bounce in the Wales defence to give the hosts the lead. Ramsey volleyed over in response, while Ashley Williams nodded straight at Begovic.
Ibisevic poached a second Bosnia goal late on, but Welsh optimism cannot be dampened. Euro 2016 will be the first major tournament they grace since the 1958 World Cup, but almost 60 years of hurt has ended.