Bosnia and Portugal left
their two-legged Euro 2012 play-off finely balanced after a
goalless stalemate on Friday on a barely playable pitch in the
ramshackle Bilino Polje stadium.
The Portuguese, who celebrated a 2-0 aggregate win over
Bosnia at the same venue in their 2010 World Cup play-off,
dominated proceedings but were almost caught napping late in the
game after a subdued home side finally came to life.
Portugal had the upper hand in the opening stages with
Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani looking lively on either flank, but
failed to create any clear-cut chances as their final pass kept
going astray on a bumpy surface littered with holes.
The consistently unpredictable and awkward bounce of the
ball forced Helder Postiga to fire his close-range volley high
over the bar several minutes before Sanel Jahic blocked a
stinging Ronaldo shot from 12 metres.
The Portuguese continued to press after the interval and
Ronaldo missed an excellent chance in the 51st minute, scuffing
his shot wide from 10 metres after a defence-splitting through
ball hit a clot of mud in front of him.
Postiga then curled his shot from the heart of the penalty
box just wide of the far post as the Bosnians began to tire and
needed several last-gasp clearances to keep the visitors at bay.
Bosnia's in-form Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko had a
quiet game and attempted his first shot on goal only in the 71st
minute, blazing his effort from 20 metres high and wide.
Second-half substitute Vedad Ibisevic injected attacking
spirit into the home side but squandered Bosnia's best two
chances in the closing stages, the first when he sliced the ball
wide from seven metres after a poor first touch.
The striker was then put through by a delightful Miralem
Pjanic pass but shot over the bar when he had only keeper Rui
Patricio to beat.
Both coaches, Bosnia's Safet Susic and Paulo Bento of
Portugal, agreed the poor surface affected the quality of play
by two usually entertaining sides.
"We did not score a goal although we deserved it for what we
did here. Portugal played on a pitch which UEFA should not have
allowed but we tried to do the best we could," Bento told
"Both sides had their chances, I was confident there would
be at least one goal in the game but a very difficult pitch made
scoring a tall order," Susic told Bosnia's BHT television.
"Portugal are a great side, they showed their class
throughout the game and caused us a lot of problems.
"I am sure they will have the same level of respect for us
after this game because they know we can score away from home
and I think we have a realistic chance of reaching next year's
finals in Poland and Ukraine."
He added: "They will be happy with this result as much as we
are and the tie is likely to go down to the wire. Whatever
happens in the return leg, I am proud of the players for coming
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