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Walters The Star As Ireland Book Place At Euro 2016

Jonathan Walters booked the Republic of Ireland’s place at next summer’s European Championships in France with a fine display against a lacklustre Bosnian side in Dublin on Monday night.

After a solid performance last week in Sarajevo, Martin O’Neill’s men knew that either a goalless draw or a win would seal their destiny. It was to be the Stoke man’s night as his two goals secured the plane tickets and consecutive appearances in the Euros for the first time.

The Boys in Green were the dominant team in the first half. They looked comfortable on the ball and their passing was close to perfect. The visitors on the other hand looked uncomfortable and at times it seemed as if they had trouble settling into the game.

The Irish showed some glimpses of class in the early stages. Robbie Brady played a nice one-two with Wes Hoolahan on the left side of box. They managed to put the defence on the back foot but unfortunately, Asmir Begovic was on hand to prevent the ball returning to Hoolahan, who had some space to shoot. 

Martin O’Neill’s men were definitely up for it and they kept pouncing at the Bosnian defence, putting them under pressure and forcing mistakes. The Bosnian’s also showed they were no pushovers with some aggressive play within the half. Defender, Emir Spahic showed that his side was unwilling just to sit back throughout the 90 minutes. Half way through first 45 minutes, the Hamburg defender clattered into Jeff Hendrick. The referee had no problem reaching into his pocket and pulling out the first yellow card of the night.

Then the big talking point of the game happened. Daryl Murphy attempted to whip a cross into the box. However, his effort was blocked by the hand of Erwin Zukanovic. Referee Bjorn Kulpers had no hesitation in pointing to the spot for a penalty. Walters stepped up confidently, sending former teammate Begovic the wrong way and slotting the ball into the bottom left hand corner.

The Irish returned to the pitch for the second half and seemed to drop the pace initially. The visitors began to pile on some pressure in an attempt to make the tie all square. Bosnia also turned up the aggression. Sead Kolasinac seemed to strike defender Seamus Coleman in the face while walking away from a failed corner attempt. The referee missed the incident but gave a free-kick nonetheless.

Spahic was also involved in some controversial incidents and the defender was lucky to still be on the pitch after some late challenges. Ireland were also fortunate to have eleven men on the pitch after the final whistle. Substitute James McClean, was booked not long after coming onto the pitch and made some questionable challenges despite already having his name in the referee’s book.

Walters then added Ireland’s second goal of the night. Brady, whose set-pieces had been mixed all night, whipped in a free-kick towards the back post. The Bosnian defence tried to clear but the ball landed at the feet of Walters who fired the ball low and past Begovic. The home crowd went wild as it hit home that Ireland were on their way to France next summer.

The visitors were quiet for the rest of the game. Their play was sloppy at times and they failed to trouble the Irish. Vedad Ibisevic came close in injury time to getting a goal back, however his effort cracked off the woodwork. The Irish were not to be denied the win and a clean sheet to match.

With qualification now secured, attention will turn to the draw in Paris on December 12th. The team and fans alike will be glued to their TV screens to see who the Irish will face next summer. The dream of Whelan vs Ronaldo is well and truly alive!

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REP. OF IRELAND: Randolph, Coleman, Keogh, Clark, Brady, Hendrick, Whelan (C) (O’Shea 91′), McCarthy, Hoolahan (McClean 54′), Murphy (Long 54′), Walters

Substitutes: Forde, Henderson, Wilson, McGeady, Keane, Christie, Ward, Gibson, Arter
Goals: Walters (23′, 69′)
Yellow Cards: McClean (58′), Long (84′)

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BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA: Begovic, Cocalic (Besic 45′), Spahic, Kolasinac, Vranjes, Medunjanin (Djuric 69′), Pjanic, Dzeko (C), Lulic (Ibisevic 80′), Zukanovic, Visca

Substitutes: Buric, Sehic, Bicakcic, Hodzic, Susic, Sunjic, Hajrovic, Hadzic, Salihovic
Yellow Cards: Spahic (19′), Lulic (24′), Djuric (93′), Dzeko (93′)

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Referee: Bjorn Kulpers (NED)

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Conor McManus, Pundit Arena

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.