Portugal overcome Bosnia
Meireles hits winner as Salihovic is sent off
Last Updated: November 18, 2009 11:06pm
Meireles: Scored winner
Portugal negotiated a tricky tie to qualify for the World Cup after a 1-0 success in Bosnia-Herzegovina sealed a 2-0 aggregate victory.
Carlos Queiroz's side headed into the second leg in front thanks to Bruno Alves' goal on home soil, but Bosnia-Herzegovina had been unfortunate to be trailing after being denied by the woodwork three times in Portugal.
However, Portugal made no mistake in the return as Raul Meireles' goal after 56 minutes was enough to guarantee a safe passage through to South Africa.
The hosts' bid to claw back the deficit in the closing stages was hampered on 76 minutes when Sejad Salihovic was sent off.
Portugal were well-drilled throughout, with Pepe leading the defence impressively as a holding midfielder with Bruno Alves behind him.
Their efficient set-up reduced Bosnia-Herzegovina to only half chances and suffocated attacks with Braga goalkeeper Eduardo having little to do.
In the 25th minute Bosnia-Herzegovina were forced onto the back foot as Portugal cleverly worked the ball forward with short passing. The move resulted in a chance when Tiago and Meireles teamed up to force Kenan Hasagic into an impressive save.
By this point Bosnia-Herzegovina were reduced to pumping the ball forward aimlessly and only when Chelsea reserve right-back Paulo Ferreira failed to deal with Edin Dzeko's 43rd minute cross did Portugal look to be in any sort of danger.
The start of the second half was not any better for the home side as Portugal stifled their creative play before passing the ball forward.
The central midfield axis of Tiago and Meireles were key figures with Nani and Simao either side of Liedson up front.
Eleven minutes into the half Meireles got on the end of a superb move. Tiago found Nani on the left and with Liedson's dummy run fooling the defence, the Porto midfielder got on the end of the Manchester United winger's cross to fire home emphatically.
The goal came as a huge relief to Nani, who minutes earlier wasted a one-on-one opportunity when Hasagic saved.
It also served as a hammer blow to Bosnia-Herzegovina and any remaining wind was taken out of their sails when Zlatan Muslimovic wasted a golden chance.
Portugal played with increased freedom from there on in. Goalscorer Meireles had further chances in the 57th and 71st minutes while Edinho should have added some well-deserved gloss to the scoreline in extra-time.
Dzeko - the only Bosnia-Herzegovina player who looked on form - created a chance nine minutes from time only to fire wide.
Portugal held firm to ride out worthy winners, ending a very poor qualifying campaign on a high with by far their best performance of the Queiroz era.
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group A
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group B
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group C
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FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group D
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group E
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group F
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group G
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group H
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group I