Wales lose, but still qualify

Wales have qualified for Euro 2016 despite losing 2-0 to Bosnia-Herzegovina at Stadion Bilino Polj on Saturday, with late goals from Milan Djuric and Vedad Ibisevic.

  • Bosnia-Herzegovina 2 Wales 0
  • First half finishes goalless
  • Djuric heads the Bosnians into the lead
  • Ibisevic makes it 2-0 on the stroke of fulltime
  • Wales still qualify for Euro 2016

Match Summary

Neither side could break the deadlock in the first half despite some entertaining football. Ramsey and Bale for Wales, and Pjanic for Bosnia-Herzegovina, were brightly creative and wasteful in equal measure.

The breakthrough came in the 78th minute when an harmless-looking free kick was sent into the Welsh penalty box, where it was not dealt with and fell to Milan Djuric. The substitute rose high to send a looping header over Wayne Hennessey.

As Wales tried desperately to equalise, the hosts doubled their lead in the 90th minute through Vedad Ibisevic. A corner hit towards the near post was eventually fired across goal by Djuric, and Ibisevic was perfectly positioned to smash it home from close-range.

Despite the defeat, Wales have now qualified for Euro 2016 thanks to Israel's 2-1 loss to Cyprus, ending their 57-year wait to compete in a major international tournament.

Full Report

The match got off to a lively start as both teams stretched their legs. Real Madrid winger Gareth Bale went through the gears in the opening minutes before Robson-Kanu and Ramsey combined to set up a difficult chance for Taylor, with the Welsh looking to make an early statement of intent.

The hosts also showed they were up for it with the lion's share of possession in the opening stages, and got their first real opportunity inside 10 minutes, with Lulic stroking the ball just wide of the post from inside the box after being set up by Pjanic.

In the 14th minute it was Ramsey's turn to threaten goal with a free kick that everyone was expecting to be crossed in, but the Arsenal man went for goal and almost caught Chelsea goalkeeper Asmir Begovic off his line.

As the game settled into a rhythm the Bosnians were applying most of the pressure on the visitors, but Wales continued to look dangerous on the counter-attack, especially with the pacy Bale just waiting for his chance, while Robson-Kanu was also keeping the Bosnian defence on their toes.

With half an hour played, both sides had a free-kick that they failed to make the most of. Ramsey earned Wales their set piece with some stylish dribbling, but Bale elected to shoot from distance and could only tamely transfer possession to Begovic. Pjanic was then similarly wasteful when his teammates had lined up in the Welsh box for something a bit better.

As halftime approached, Wales looked the more likely to score. Robson-Kanu set Bale loose on the left flank, and the former Spurs man forced a foul from Spahic, but Ramsey's free kick was poor. 

The Gunners man did some great work to set up an opportunity a couple of minutes later, and should have pulled the trigger before Begovic smothered the danger, keeping the scores goalless at halftime.

The second half started with the same intensity as the first, with Pjanic looking to release the offside Ibisevic before Bale forced Sunjic to make a wonderful diving challenge in the box. A minute later and Pjanic was wreaking havoc in the Welsh penalty area again.

With the hour-mark approaching, Bale was looking especially dangerous with his trademark dynamism. He managed to get yet another off-target effort at goal despite the attention of Hadzic, and minutes later got his head on a poorly-hit cross from Taylor.

The game became scrappy after the hour mark as the hosts struggled to retain possession and make anything meaningful happen, and the home fans were getting increasingly frustrated as Wales edged closer to the result they needed.

Just as the home fans' frustration was reaching a crescendo, Milan Djuric broke the deadlock for Bosnia-Herzegovina in the 71st minute. A long free kick into the Welsh box was not dealt with and the substitute managed to loop a header over Hennessey and find the net.

The unexpected goal shook the Wales team as defeat threatened to derail their entire campaign, hence the introduction of Burnley forward Sam Vokes for Joe Ledley.

Things then heated up even more with news that Israel equalised against Cyprus, making it crucial that Wales rescue a point. Bale and Ramsey responded to the pressure and almost got that much-needed equaliser when Ramsey fired an effort over the bar.

Bale then came close moments later, but the Welsh did get some good news from elsewhere when Cyprus regained the lead against Israel, tipping events in favour of both Wales and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

With fives minutes left to play, Coleman opted for a double change with Church and Edwards coming on for Allen and Robson-Kanu.

But the hosts doubled their lead on the stroke of fulltime through Ibisevic, who profited from some confsued defending and good fortune as Djuric's ball across the box fell to him, allowing the striker to bundle home and make it 2-0.

In the end it didn't matter for Wales, who still qualified for Euro 2016 thanks to Cyprus beating Israel 2-1. It's hardly the best way to reach the tournament in France, but still objective achieved for Chris Coleman and the Dragons.