Bosnia and Herzegovina and Portugal could not be separated after a lively 0-0 draw in their UEFA EURO 2012 play-off first leg, played in front of a noisy, passionate crowd at a sold-out Stadium Bilino Polje.
After a first half bossed by Paulo Bento's side, the home side came back strongly in the second period. They will travel to the Lisbon's Estádio do SL Benfica on Tuesday with real hope of qualifying for their maiden major final tournament.
Raul Meireles had the first sight of goal in the ninth minute after being deftly set up by Hélder Postiga, but Asmir Begović dived smartly to smother the midfielder's effort. As Portugal began to control proceedings, Postiga again threatened, firing over from the edge of the area. When Cristiano Ronaldo cut in and shot as the half-hour approached, only a heroic block by Adnan Zahirović maintained parity.
Captain Emir Spahić − the only available member of Safet Sušić's first-choice defence – led a strong rearguard action as the hosts began to launch a series of counterattacks. The crowd again burst into life as their side tested Rui Patrício for the first time in the 32nd minute, Senad Lulić blasting an effort from range at the goalkeeper.
Bosnia and Herzegovina seemed lifted by their raucous fans as the second half began, but they could have easily gone behind in the 51st minute, when Ronaldo raced clear from Nani's cute flick but steered the ball wide. As Sušić's men gained a foothold, Portugal began to create chances, however. Postiga shot wide when well placed after João Moutinho's free-kick fell to him in a crowded penalty area, then Ronaldo tested Begović following a surging run past three players.
Sušić made a double change to force the issue as the match reached its final quarter, bringing on Vedad Ibišević and Darko Maletić. The former had an excellent chance to break the deadlock but was off-balance as he received Zvjezdan Misimović's cross to the far post.
The pair again combined in the final ten minutes, when Misimović produced another superb pass to send the TSG 1899 Hoffenheim striker clear. With time to compose himself, Ibišević blazed a shot high over the bar and thereby banished any hope of taking a lead into the second leg.