Wales held by Bosnia

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Published: Friday 10th October 2014 by The News Editor

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Wales picked up what could prove to be a precious Euro 2016 point as their Group B qualifier with Bosnia-Herzegovina in Cardiff finished in a goalless stalemate.

After a cautious first half where chances were at a premium the game burst into life in the second period with both sides having opportunities to settle the contest.

Wales were grateful for the goalkeeping brilliance of Wayne Hennessey who made excellent saves to thwart Miralem Pjanic and Edin Dzeko, while Wales survived a sticky second half patch to fashion late chances.

Gareth Bale forced two fine saves from Asmir Begovic in the Bosnian goal and Ashley Williams and Hal Robson-Kanu both headed wide from corners when it was conceivably easier to score.

Wales came into the game missing influential midfield pair Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen and that played into Bosnian hands as they dominated that department, with Roma playmaker Pjanic pulling the strings.

But Bosnia were almost undone when Chris Gunter supplied a dangerous ball to the near post and Bale looked favourite to touch it home.

However, the Real Madrid forward failed to divert it goalwards and Toni Sunjic cleared with Ashley Williams heading the resulting corner over.

Bosnia gave warning of their attacking intent in the 10th minute when Wales were caught napping by a quickly-taken free-kick, Pjanic’s 25-yard effort deflecting off Ashley Williams to force a fine save from Hennessey.

Wales were seeking to get Bale into the game at every opportunity and Ben Davies floated a pass beyond the Bosnian defence but, with the ball dropping over his shoulder, the world’s most expensive player’s volley lacked direction.

The hosts had received one warning from Pjanic and they soon got another as they stood off him for his right-footed drive to flash past Hennessey’s upright.

There were ominous signs for Wales as Bosnia were starting to dictate midfield matters and they were almost rewarded when Vedad Ibisevic met Pjanic’s corner, but his powerful header flew straight at Hennessey.

Pjanic became the second Bosnian after Anel Hadzic to be cautioned for a rash challenge on Jonathan Williams near the touchline.

And the Welsh crowd were howling for a red card moments later when the same two players were involved and Williams tumbled to the floor.

Ibisevic complained he should have had a penalty when he fell inside the area close to half-time but his plea fell on the deaf ears of the Russian referee and Dzeko might have done better with a headed opportunity as the Bosnians finished the half on top.

Bale tried to get Wales going with a long-range free-kick but Begovic saw it sail harmlessly over and the Bosnians almost took the lead after 50 minutes when Tino-Sven Susic crossed and Hennessey bravely spread himself to deny Haris Medunjanin at the near post.

Bosnia began to lay siege on the Welsh goal and Hennessey twice denied Dzeko before making another excellent stop from Medunjanin’s 20-yard drive with on-rushing Bosnians just failing to reach the rebound.

Wales could barely get out of their half and Neil Taylor was booked for felling Mensur Mujdza as the pressure mounted.

There was brief respite as Wales forced a corner and Ashley Williams rose highest for the Bosnians to hack the ball to safety but Pjanic soon floated a free-kick far too close to Hennessey’s post for comfort.

Tempers were threatening to boil over and James Chester was booked following an aggressive tackle in which he had actually won the ball and both captains, Ashley Williams and Dzeko, were cautioned after an ensuing melee in the centre circle.

Wales’ best chance of the night arrived when Bale swung in a free-kick from the left and Ashley Williams was unmarked eight yards out, but the captain headed over.

That missed opportunity almost cost Wales dear seconds later as Bosnia won a free-kick centrally 25 yards out.

Pjanic lined it up again and his strike was sweet but Hennessey reacted with a wonderful strong hand to push the ball over.

The contest was really end to end now and Bale finally found space to shift the ball onto his weaker right foot but a firm drive ended in Begovic’s grasp.

Bale was finally finding space and his angled drive almost beat Begovic’s dive before Robson-Kanu headed wide in the final seconds while standing right in front of the goalkeeper, neither side finding the killer touch to take all three points.

Published: Friday 10th October 2014 by The News Editor

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