Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Dzeko Thwarts Republic with a Last-Gasp Leveller; BOSNIA HERZEGOVINA 1 REP OF IRELAND 1

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Dzeko Thwarts Republic with a Last-Gasp Leveller; BOSNIA HERZEGOVINA 1 REP OF IRELAND 1

Article excerpt

EDIN Dzeko denied the Republic of Ireland a precious first leg victory as Bosnia and Herzegovina ensured a tense conclusion to their Euro 2016 play-off showdown.

Robbie Brady had fired Ireland into an unlikely 82nd-minute lead at the fog-swathed Bilino Polje Stadium in Zenica after the home side had dominated in front of a hugely-partisan crowd.

However, Roma hitman Dzeko ensured his team will head for Dublin on Monday evening level at 1-1 and with everything to play for.

Republic boss Martin O'Neill, who travelled to Bosnia without key players Shay Given, John O'Shea, Jonathan Walters and Shane Long through a combination of injury and suspension, had impressed the importance of both a clean sheet and an away goal on his players.

He very nearly left with both, although that would have been harsh on Bosnia who dominated for long periods in a game which only exploded into life at the end.

However, that away goal could yet prove priceless as Ireland attempt to secure their second successive passage to the European Championship finals to join England, Northern Ireland and Wales in France next summer.

O'Neill asked Ciaran Clark to plug the sizeable gap left by the injured and suspended John O'Shea, while Stephen Ward was given the nod at left-back in a re-shaped defence on a night when what Ireland were able to do at the back was always likely to prove key to what their hopes of emerging with a positive result.

Ireland reached the half-time break intact, as so often in the past, a testament to their organisation and commitment.

Goalkeeper Darren Randolph had made only one save of note - and that not particularly taxing.

However, they were forced to soak up pressure for almost the entire 45 minutes with lone striker Daryl Murphy isolated and playmaker Wes Hoolahan having little impact. …

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