Bosnia and Portugal draw blank
Euro 2012 hopefuls in first-leg stalemate
Last Updated: 11/11/11 10:00pm
Cristiano Ronaldo: Failed to make a breakthrough in Portugal's Euro 2012 play-off with Bosnia
Vedad Ibisevic spurned two late chances as Bosnia-Herzegovina drew 0-0 with Portugal in their Euro 2012 play-off first leg.
After a largely uninspiring performance, Portugal, who famously ended Bosnia's 2010 World Cup hopes with two 1-0 play-off wins, will now head to Lisbon confident of ending the Bosnians' hopes once more.
Bosnia coach Safet Susic was already without defenders Sasa Papac and Boris Pandza though suspension, before his defensive problems deepened before kick-off when Mensur Mujdza dropped out injured.
And the hosts were left relieved at the break after a first half which Portugal bossed but ultimately failed to take by the scruff of the neck.
Manchester United forward Nani created the visitor's first chance when he drilled the ball across the face of goal after just two minutes, but there were no takers.
Asmir Begovic was then called into action, for the first and only real time of the half when Nani headed down to Raul Meireles, who saw his half-volley saved low by the Bosnia 'keeper.
A 26th minute effort from Cristiano Ronaldo, who cut in from the left and unleashed a shot which Adnan Zahirovic did well to block, proved to be the last chance of the half.
Minutes after the restart the Real Madrid striker was left frustrated at missing out again.
Left unmarked just inside the area, Ronaldo could only fire a left-footed first-timer wide of the goal after latching on to Nani's sublime backheel flick.
Although Bosnia had high hopes for Edin Dzeko, the scorer of 10 goals this season, the Manchester City striker was given few bites at the cherry.
When his first real chance emerged in the 72nd minute, Dzeko sent his effort wide.
Dzeko, until then playing as a lone striker, was given a boost when Susic sent on Ibisevic for the final 20 minutes. Portugal coach Paulo Bento did likewise, sending on the towering Hugo Almeida for Helder Postiga.
Ibisevic then went on to waste the hosts' best chance of the game, dragging his shot wide after failing to fully control Zvjezdan Misimovic's cross from the left.
Nine minutes from time fans were left in disbelief again when Ibisevic fired high and wide after powering down the right flank unchallenged with only Rui Patricio to beat.
Portugal threatened a late goal when Ronaldo ran on to Almeida's cross, only to be denied by a Bosnian boot. From the resulting corner home 'keeper Begovic who had to be alert to save down low after the ball bounced off a Bosnian boot.
Moments later Dzeko forced a one-handed save from Patricio, but was flagged for off-side.
European Championship Qualifying Group A
European Championship Qualifying Group B
|5||Bosnia and Herzegovina||4||2|
European Championship Qualifying Group C
European Championship Qualifying Group D
|4||Republic of Ireland||4||7|
European Championship Qualifying Group E
European Championship Qualifying Group F
European Championship Qualifying Group G
European Championship Qualifying Group H
European Championship Qualifying Group I