Northern Ireland 1-2 Bosnia and Herzegovina: Will Grigg scores late
Report and highlights from UEFA Nations League game
By James Walker-Roberts
Last Updated: 09/09/18 2:27pm
Northern Ireland suffered a frustrating start to the UEFA Nations League as they were beaten 2-1 at home by Bosnia and Herzegovina on Saturday.
Michael O'Neill's side dominated the Group B3 clash at Windsor Park but spurned a number of chances, with Stuart Dallas and Kyle Lafferty denied early in the second half.
Haris Duljevic struck for Bosnia in the 36th minute and Elvis Saris added a second in the 64th minute after Craig Cathcart's header stranded debutant goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell.
Northern Ireland: Peacock-Farrell (5), McLaughlin (5), Lewis (6), Evans (6), Cathcart (4), Saville (7), Davis (7), Norwood (7), McGinn (7), Lafferty (5), Dallas (7)
Subs: Grigg (6), Boyce (5), Ward (5)
Bosnia and Herzegovina: Sehic (5), Civic (5), Besic (5), Sunjic (6), Zukanovic (6), Pjanic (5), Cimirot (5), Saric (6), Visca (5), Duljevic (6), Dzeko (5)
Subs: Krunic (5), Zakaric (5), Bajic (5)
Man of the match: Stuart Dallas
Will Grigg managed to pull a goal back in injury-time, but Northern Ireland could not snatch a draw that their performance merited.
While the display was encouraging, Northern Ireland have now won just one of their last eight games and face an uphill battle in Group B3 with away games against Bosnia and Austria next on the agenda in October.
The hosts could have had a penalty inside the first minute when George Saville appeared to be tripped by Milos Zukanovic.
The referee waved away the appeals but Northern Ireland continued to press high up the pitch and force the visitors into mistakes.
Bosnia looked rattled and Niall McGinn saw an effort saved while Dallas and Steven Davis shot wide.
However, Bosnia struck against the run of play as, minutes after Edin Dzeko saw a shot saved, Duljevic snuck into the box and finished a low cross from close range.
Northern Ireland spurned more chances early in the second half as Dallas failed to score with a volley from 10 yards out and Lafferty was denied by Ibrahim Sehic from a tight angle.
Bailey Peacock-Farrell made his competitive debut for Northern Ireland, meaning no chance of a switch to England. Norwich's Jamal Lewis also made his debut.
Edin Dzeko and Miralem Pjanic started for Bosnia and Muhamed Besic was at right-back with Darko Todorovic suspended.
The hosts then suffered a blow when Cathcart's header was short and Saric nipped ahead of Peacock-Farrell and finished into the empty net.
Duljevic curled against the post before a late push from Northern Ireland, who saw substitute Liam Boyce denied by Sehic and then Grigg score a consolation goal in the 93rd minute.
- This was just the fifth competitive home defeat that Northern Ireland have suffered under Michael O'Neill, following losses to Israel and Portugal in 2013 and Germany and Switzerland in 2017.
- Bosnia and Herzegovina have won back-to-back games in all competitions for the first time since March 2017, having won 3-1 against South Korea in their previous outing.
- Northern Ireland have lost three of their last four home games (W1), as many as they had in their previous 21 on home soil (W12 D6).
- Northern Ireland have conceded in four consecutive home fixtures for the first time since March 2013 (a run of seven games).
- Three of Northern Ireland's last four goals in all competitions have been scored in the 86th minute or later.
Man of the match - Stuart Dallas
He should have scored early in the second half when he volleyed into the ground, but otherwise Dallas was excellent. The Leeds winger combined well with team-mates and put in several good crosses which could have resulted in chances.
Northern Ireland are in friendly action on Tuesday when they host Israel while Bosnia and Herzegovina host Austria in the UEFA Nations League on the same day, with both games live on Sky Sports.