Bosnia-Herzegovina's bid to reach the UEFA EURO 2004™ finals ended in tears at the Koševo stadium in Sarajevo on Saturday, as the Balkan team were held to a 1-1 draw by Denmark.
While ruining Bosnian dreams of a first appearance at a major finals, the result was enough to secure Denmark's place at the top of Group 2 and their passage to Portugal. Morten Olsen's men had gone into the match needing only a draw to win the group - compared to the victory that Bosnia-Herzegovina required - yet it was the visitors who made the brighter start.
Jørgensen strikes first
First Morten Weighorst shot wide when played in by Jon Dahl Tomasson's clever flick. Then Jesper Grønkjær had an effort saved by Kenan Hasagic following a Thomas Gravesen pass. But after Emir Spahic had cleared Martin Laursen's header off the line, the Bosnians' luck finally ran out. Gravesen angled a pass between the legs of Muhamed Konjic and perfectly into the path of Martin Jørgensen, who finished with aplomb from a position just inside the penalty area.
The home side might have conceded the lead, but they did not give up hope. After the impressive Hasan Salihamidzic had tested Danish goalkeeper Thomas Sørensen with the kind of dangerous, inswinging cross that was to be a feature of the night, the FC Bayern München playmaker created the equalising goal for Elvir Bolic on 39 minutes.
Back on level terms
From the right flank, he crossed for Bolic to outjump Christian Poulsen and plant a firm header into the net. Minutes later, Sergej Barbarez headed centimetres wide as Denmark began to look increasingly vulnerable to high balls into their area.
The opening exchanges of the second half brought no respite for the Danes. Vedin Music and the lively Barbarez both found the sidenetting while Zlatan Bajramovic and substitute Elvir Baljic also went close as the visitors struggled to clear their lines.
Tomasson goes close
Gradually, though, Denmark were able to regain a foothold in a match that, at one point, threatened to slip away from them. Tomasson could have restored the Danes' advantage but fired a shot over from Dennis Rommedahl's low centre. Then he chipped agonisingly wide after breaking clear down the right channel.
Yet as long as the game remained on a knife-edge, Olsen and company could not relax. The Galatasaray SK forward Baljic underlined this point when his header took a wicked bounce and span beyond Sørensen's reach and centimetres wide of the goalkeeper's right-hand post on 86 minutes.
Never malicious, the match ended on a sour note when Gravesen was adjudged to have fouled Bulend Bišcevic and received his second yellow card. However, the Everton FC player was all smiles within seconds as the final whistle signalled Denmark's progress to Portugal.