Long strike sinks Bosnia
Substitute Shane Long's header was enough for the Republic of Ireland to overcome a strong Bosnian outfit 1-0 in Dublin.
By Hayley Paterson
Last Updated: 26/05/12 7:32pm
Substitute Shane Long's header was enough for Ireland to overcome a strong Bosnian outfit in their friendly in Dublin.
It was another substitute in Aiden McGeady who set up the West Brom striker as he lifted a delightful cross into the far post for Long to head into the net.
It was a bit of a stop-start encounter at the Aviva Stadium, with neither side really troubling the goalkeepers as Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko headed the Bosnian attack but looked far from his clinical self.
Ireland were certainly worthy of their win in what was a shuffled side by Giovanni Trapattoni to compensate for a number of injuries.
McGeady could have opened the scoring himself just moments after entering the fray as a second-half substitute but saw his volley from Kevin Doyle's flick-on crash back off the post.
Another chance went begging when Jon Walters came off the bench but smashed the bar with a far-post header.
Trapattoni wanted to play the Bosnians because he knew that their technical ability was similar to that of Croatia who they will face in next month's competition as well as Spain and Italy standing in their way.
For long periods of the game Safet Susic's side retained the ball and passed it confidently with Miralem Pjanic and skipper Zvjezdan Misimovic providing the engine in the middle of the park as Dzeko, despite not really featuring much in the game, still managing to keep Richard Dunne on his toes throughout.
As is the case with the Republic, their determination shone through during the sun-soaked afternoon and it was not really until the 40th minute that Kieren Westwood was called upon to make a save.
Striker Vedad Ibisevic looked lively from the start but saw a wild effort fly over the bar after just four minutes and then only just failed to turn home Dzeko's ninth-minute cross in a positive start by the visitors.
Ireland gradually worked their way into the game and midfielder Glenn Whelan seemed convinced he should have been awarded a 13th-minute penalty when he burst past central defender Sanel Jahic and appeared to be felled as he rounded Begovic.
Despite the midfielder's appeals, Swiss referee Nikolaj Haenni, however, waved play on.
James McClean, starting a senior international for the first time, set up Darron Gibson to drag a 25th-minute effort wide after working good space from the left flank.
Later skipper Robbie Keane sent a snapshot over the bar after turning smartly six minutes later.
Pjanic nearly wrong-footed Westwood with a 30-yarder and then at the other end McClean forced Begovic into a smart save at his near post with a well-struck left-foot drive, and then the keeper had to block at the feet of Damien Duff after Keane's clever flick had put the midfielder in on goal.
Central defender Darren O'Dea also tested Begovic with a late header, but there was nothing between the sides as they went in at the break.
Trapattoni made a double change at the break which ultimately decided the game when Whelan and Duff were replaced with Keith Andrews and McGeady who almost made an instant impact.
The winger timed his run to perfection to meet Kevin Doyle's knock-down and sent a right-foot volley towards goal, but with Begovic beaten, the ball came back off the post.
Westwood had to make sure he was on his toes when Pjanic struck from 35 yards just before the hour mark from a free-kick.
He later sent a fiercely-struck effort towards the top corner causing the Sunderland keeper to pull off a fine one-handed save.
Trapattoni then withdrew first-choice strike-pairing Keane and Doyle with 63 minutes played and sent on Long and Jon Walters in their place.
Walters very nearly gave the home side a 74th-minute lead when he met McGeady's cross with a powerful header, but saw the ball crash back off the crossbar, and the former Celtic winger himself tested Begovic with a viciously-dipping shot two minutes later which almost eluded the keeper.
However, Long finally made the pressure count when he rose at the far post to head yet another inch-perfect McGeady delivery home.
It could have been 2-0 within a minute when McGeady put Walters in on goal, but club-mate Begovic closed him down well to block, and then pulled off a stunning late save to deny Long a second.
Giving Bosnia no response, that win extends Ireland's unbeaten run to 13 games a day before they leave for their pre-tournament training camp in Montecatini, Italy.
|Republic of Ireland||Team Statistics||Bosnia-Herzegovina|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|7||Shots on Target||2|
|9||Shots off Target||6|
|47.3||1st Half Poss.||52.7|
|52.3||2nd Half Poss.||47.7|