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Brady gets Irish away goal as Džeko saves Bosnians

Bosnia and Herzegovina 1-1 Republic of Ireland
Robbie Brady scored a vital away goal for Ireland before Edin Džeko's swift riposte kept the teams level.

Highlights: Bosnia & Herzegovina 1-1 Republic of Ireland
  • Two goals in four minutes in Zenica keep both sides in frame ahead of second leg
  • Robbie Brady gives Ireland lead on 82 minutes
  • Bosnia captain Edin Džeko equalises three minutes later
  • UEFA EURO 2016 play-off concludes in Dublin on Monday
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina have never qualified for a EURO
  • Behind the scenes in Zenica

Edin Džeko ensured that Bosnia and Herzegovina will go to Dublin with only the disadvantage of an away goal conceded after the captain provided a quick response to the Republic of Ireland's late opener in Friday's 1-1 play-off first-leg draw in Zenica.

Martin O'Neill's Ireland team appeared to have taken a firm stride in the direction of UEFA EURO 2016 when Robbie Brady struck with eight minutes remaining. However, the lead lasted just three minutes, and the level terms earned by Džeko's eighth goal of qualifying puts this tie in the balance ahead of Monday's decider.

As usual, home coach Mehmed Baždarević had a surprise in store, not by recalling the irresistible Džeko, rather by omitting midfielder Haris Medunjanin for first-time starter Edin Cocalić.

Edin Cocalić challenges Daryl Murphy
Edin Cocalić challenges Daryl Murphy©Getty Images

Given the high stakes, the cautious start made by both sides was perfectly understandable, and it was not until the tenth minute that Ervin Zukanovic passed up the golden opportunity created for him by Mensur Mujdža and Miralem Pjanić. Vedad Ibišević, off target with a scissor-kick, sent his next volley askew from Edin Višća's delivery. The latter also set up Zukanovic for a header saved by Darren Randolph as the stalemate persisted until half-time.

Come the restart, the thickening fog over the Stadion Bilino polje added to the air of suspense. Višća caused more panic in the Republic penalty area with a cross that troubled Randolph and Ciaran Clark. Then, finally, an Irish threat emerged as Jeff Hendrick forced a stop from Asmir Begović.

That, however, was merely the prelude to seemingly the game's standout chance which Senad Lulić, alone in front of Randolph, was unable to convert. The eventual breakthrough came at the other end on 82 minutes as winger Brady saw his cracking low shot turn past Begović and into a precious away goal.

Edin Džeko (right) after his equaliser
Edin Džeko (right) after his equaliser©Getty Images

Advantage Ireland; well yes, though not quite so categorically, it transpired. That man Džeko, with a side-footed finish from Ognjen Vranješ's centre, equalised soon afterwards.

Mehmed Baždarević, Bosnia and Herzegovina coach
The first half was very difficult, as expected, though we didn't perform the way we wanted. We didn't do what we planned against a tough opponent. However, nothing is lost – we have enough quality to give more to succeed [in the return]. I had three forwards on the pitch at the same time [after Milan Djurić's introduction], but we didn't score until five minutes from time. We expected more desire and to have better possession, but tactically we made mistakes.

Martin O'Neill, Republic of Ireland coach
It was tough – we played well, we're still in the game. I don't think the away goal is much of an advantage. Drawing against such a good team is a success. We might be lacking certain things but in terms of desire and wanting to go out and compete, that sort of performance epitomised that. We coped with the very fine players that Bosnia have in their team.