Wednesday 13 December 2017

‘Efficient attack and costly defensive lapse' – Five things we learned from Ireland’s draw in Bosnia

Toni Šunjic in action against Daryl Murphy at Stadion Bilino Pole, Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Toni Šunjic in action against Daryl Murphy at Stadion Bilino Pole, Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Declan Whooley

Declan Whooley

It was a result any Irish fan would have settled for before kick-off and Ireland will take great confidence from the positive result in Zenica. Here is what we learned from the 1-1 draw.

Robbie Brady looked to have given Martin O’Neill’s side the win with eight minutes remaining, but Edin Dzeko struck just three minutes later to ensure a share of the spoils.

A pragmatic approach from Martin O’Neill, heavy fog and a quiet night generally from Bosnia’s marquee players contributed to the cagey encounter.

A costly late lapse?

We may have lacked in attack (we’ll get to that), but it was an impressive showing from the Irish rearguard and a huge improvement from Warsaw.

Robbie Brady, Republic of Ireland, celebrates after scoring his side's first goal. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier Play-off, 1st Leg, Bosnia and Herzegovina v Republic of Ireland. Stadion Bilino Pole, Zenica, Bosnia & Herzegovina. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
Robbie Brady, Republic of Ireland, celebrates after scoring his side's first goal. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier Play-off, 1st Leg, Bosnia and Herzegovina v Republic of Ireland. Stadion Bilino Pole, Zenica, Bosnia & Herzegovina. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
Football - Bosnia & Herzegovina v Republic of Ireland - UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Play-Off First Leg - Stadion Bilino Polje, Zenica, Bosnia & Herzegovina - 13/11/15 Bosnia's Senad Lulic in action with Republic of Ireland's Jeff Hendrick Reuters / Dado Ruvic Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
ZENICA, BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA - NOVEMBER 13. Robbie Brady (C) of Ireland celebrates scoring a goal during the EURO 2016 Qualifier Play-Off First Leg match at Bilino Polje Stadium on November 13, 2015 in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)
ZENICA, BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA - NOVEMBER 13. Robbie Brady (L) of Ireland celebrates scoring a goal during the EURO 2016 Qualifier Play-Off First Leg match at Bilino Polje Stadium on November 13, 2015 in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)
ZENICA, BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA - NOVEMBER 13. Robbie Brady (C) of Ireland celebrates scoring a goal during the EURO 2016 Qualifier Play-Off First Leg match at Bilino Polje Stadium on November 13, 2015 in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)
Football - Bosnia & Herzegovina v Republic of Ireland - UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Play-Off First Leg - Stadion Bilino Polje, Zenica, Bosnia & Herzegovina - 13/11/15 Robbie Brady celebrates after scoring the first goal for Republic of Ireland Action Images via Reuters / Jason Cairnduff Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
Football - Bosnia & Herzegovina v Republic of Ireland - UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Play-Off First Leg - Stadion Bilino Polje, Zenica, Bosnia & Herzegovina - 13/11/15 Republic of Ireland's James McClean in action with Bosnia's Ognjen Vranjes Action Images via Reuters / Jason Cairnduff Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
13 November 2015; Robbie Brady, Republic of Ireland, celebrates after scoring his side's first goal. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier Play-off, 1st Leg, Bosnia and Herzegovina v Republic of Ireland. Stadion Bilino Pole, Zenica, Bosnia & Herzegovina. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
ZENICA, BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA - NOVEMBER 13. Robbie Brady (R) of Ireland celebrates scoring a goal during the EURO 2016 Qualifier Play-Off First Leg match at Bilino Polje Stadium on November 13, 2015 in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)
***Alternative Crop*** Bosnia and Herzegovina's Mensur Mujdza (left) and Republic of Ireland's Robert Brady (right) battle for the ball during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff first leg at The Stadion Bilino Polje, Zenica. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday November 13, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Bosnia. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Bosnia and Herzegovina's Mensur Mujdza (left) and Republic of Ireland's Robert Brady battle for the ball during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff first leg at The Stadion Bilino Polje, Zenica. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday November 13, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Bosnia. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff first leg at The Stadion Bilino Polje, Zenica. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday November 13, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Bosnia. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Bosnia and Herzegovina's Toni Sunjic (left) and Republic of Ireland's Wes Hoolahan (right) battle for the ball during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff first leg at The Stadion Bilino Polje, Zenica. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday November 13, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Bosnia. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Bosnia and Herzegovina's Edin Dzeko (right) and Republic of Ireland's James McCarthy battle for the ball during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff first leg at The Stadion Bilino Polje, Zenica. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday November 13, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Bosnia. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
13 November 2015; Robbie Brady, Republic of Ireland, in action against Mensur Mujdža, Bosnia and Herzegovina. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier Play-off, 1st Leg, Bosnia and Herzegovina v Republic of Ireland. Stadion Bilino Pole, Zenica, Bosnia & Herzegovina. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
ZENICA, BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA - NOVEMBER 13. Fog comes down during the EURO 2016 Qualifier Play-Off First Leg between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republic of Ireland at Bilino Polje Stadium on November 13, 2015 in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)
13 November 2015; Toni Šunjic, Bosnia and Herzegovina, in action against Daryl Murphy, Republic of Ireland. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier Play-off, 1st Leg, Bosnia and Herzegovina v Republic of Ireland. Stadion Bilino Pole, Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
13 November 2015; Republic of Ireland supporters watch on during the game. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier Play-off, 1st Leg, Bosnia and Herzegovina v Republic of Ireland. Stadion Bilino Pole, Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
13 November 2015; Toni Šunjic, Bosnia and Herzegovina, in action against Daryl Murphy, Republic of Ireland. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier Play-off, 1st Leg, Bosnia and Herzegovina v Republic of Ireland. Stadion Bilino Pole, Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
13 November 2015; Mensur Mujdža, Bosnia and Herzegovina, in action against Robbie Brady, Republic of Ireland. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier Play-off, 1st Leg, Bosnia and Herzegovina v Republic of Ireland. Stadion Bilino Pole, Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
(R - L Top) Republic of Ireland's James McCarthy, Daryl Murphy, Stephen Ward, Darren Randolph, Ciaran Clark, Richard Keogh (L - R Bottom) Wes Hoolahan, Seamus Coleman, Glenn Whelan, Jeff Hendrick and Robert Brady pose for a team group photograph during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff first leg at The Stadion Bilino Polje, Zenica. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday November 13, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Bosnia and Herzegovina's Toni Sunjic (left) and Republic of Ireland's Daryl Murphy battle for the ball during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff first leg at The Stadion Bilino Polje, Zenica. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday November 13, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Bosnia and Herzegovina's Toni Sunjic (left) and Republic of Ireland's Daryl Murphy battle for the ball during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff first leg at The Stadion Bilino Polje, Zenica. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday November 13, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
ZENICA, BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA - NOVEMBER 13. Ireland fans show their support prior the EURO 2016 Qualifier Play-Off First Leg match at Bilino Polje Stadium on November 13, 2015 in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)

The absence of John O’Shea threatened to derail our dreams of Euro 2016, but Richard Keogh and Ciaran Clark more than played their part. The distribution out of defence was not what it could have been, but the aim was a clean sheet and Keogh in particular was a real rock in the heart of the defence.

Seamus Coleman saw little action in the opposition half but was rarely threatened, though Stephen Ward did struggle at times, not surprisingly given his lack of club action.

Glenn Whelan offered the  usual protection in front of the back four, while James McCarthy too was more focused on breaking up Bosnian passing moves, though unfortunately possession was coughed up far too easily when the Boys in Green had time to take the sting of the Bosnian attacks.

It was unfortunate then that Dzeko stole in to deprive the visitors of a famous away win, but a similar display on Monday night could well be enough to send us to France.

Bosnia’s big guns kept under wraps

Dzeko came good at the end, but there’s no doubt that the City forward and Miralem Pjanić did not cause as much damage as some observers had feared beforehand. Pjanić in particular was often on the ball, but failed to demonstrate fully his undoubted class.

Read more here:

His effort early in the first half, where he worked a clever opening before blazing over, was symptomatic of his display.

Irish fans will hoping the duo are similarly quiet in Dublin, but knowing they must get at least one goal, we should expect a significant improvement.

Efficient attack

O’Neill’s men had just three shots on target over the course of the game, with the only effort in the first half a free-kick that Begovic easily collected, so it is hard to complain with a draw.

Brady’s goal served as a reminder that we can benefit in an attacking sense when the Dubliner is pushed further up the pitch to run at defenders.

His cool finish was what Ireland so often lack in the final third, composure and class, slipping the ball past the Chelsea goalkeeper for what looked to be the winning goal.

It wasn’t to be, but the Bosnians now know they need at least one goal in Dublin to progress and on tonight’s evidence, should their big names flex their muscles, have the ability to do just that.

Whether Ireland will create enough themselves on Monday will be a major talking point.

Video analysts will only have the first half to work with

Quite what happened after the interval was difficult to tell. While the second half was always likely to be difficult viewing as the Bosnians sought to take an advantage to Dublin, but the heavy Zenica fog mad visibility at a premium.

German referee Felix Brych seemed happy to let play continue, though from a spectator’s viewpoint, you couldn’t make out the far touchline. RTE’s Tony O’Donoghue indicated goalkeeper Darren Randolph couldn’t see the opponents half from kick-outs, while spare a thought for the travelling journalists.

Our very own Dan McDonnell said the only the Irish penalty area was visible from their vantage point and the respective video analysis before the return leg is likely to concentrate on the first half only.

Left side concerns

Brady showed his nous with the Irish goal, but a big area of concern was the repeated Bosnian attacks down the right hand side, particularly in the first half.

Ward and Brady struggled to get to grips with the defensive patters, with a number of hairy moments.

On 21 minutes home fans thought they had the lead when another cross from the right was met by Vedad Ibišević had, but thankfully from an Irish perspective, hit the side netting.

The yellow card on 25 minutes for Ward was somewhat inevitable after Edin Višća slipped the ball past Glenn Whelan and was upended by the out-of-favour Burnley man and while things improved after the break, crucially, the equaliser came from an overlap on the right side of their attack.

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