Dzeko punishes wasteful Northern Ireland
UEFA Nations League B, Group 3: Bosnia and Herzegovina 2 Northern Ireland 0
NORTHERN Ireland paid the price for some poor finishing as they fell to their third straight UEFA Nations League defeat following a 2-0 loss to Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo.
Michael O’Neill’s side passed up a number of golden opportunities with Edin Dzeko punishing them with strikes either side of half-time for the League B, Group 3 leaders.
Northern Ireland will wonder how they didn’t register a goal though with George Saville missing their first big chance in the 15th minute. Steven Davies delivered an inch-perfect cross from the right, but the Middlesbrough player side-footed wide of the post.
Dzeko blasted just over at the other end before Saville saw his smart effort hit the woodwork and rebound to safety.
There was a growing sense that the visitors would be made to pay for those misses, and Dzeko ensured that they trailed at the break as he finished well after Jamal Lewis’s slip had presented him with a clear route to goal. Dzeko also had a goal disallowed but Bosnia and Herzegovina led 1-0 at the break.
The hosts started the second half brilliantly with Haris Duljevic and Dzeko wasting chances but it was Northern Ireland who were presented with the next big opportunity, one they somehow missed.
Gavin Whyte, not long on the pitch, had an effort blocked before the ball fell to him six yards from goal. Despite appearing harder to miss, he cracked his shot off the post and the chance disappeared.
The home team grabbed the crucial second goal after 72 minutes as Dzeko curled the ball home beautifully.
Northern Ireland pushed hard to reduce the margin but Saville saw his effort brilliantly saved by Ibrahim Sehic before they incredibly hit the woodwork for a third time as Whyte’s effort came back off the post after taking a deflection.