Jonathan Walters blasted the Republic of Ireland into the finals of Euro 2016 as his double ended Bosnia-Herzegovina’s hopes of a vacation to France following summer time.
Six years to the week right after Irish hearts had been broken by the unseen Thierry Henry handball which price them a spot at the 2010 Globe Cup finals, the Republic benefited from an equally suspect choice from unlucky defender Ervin Zukanovic which permitted Walters to open the scoring from the place.
But the game remained in the harmony until the Stoke frontman dispatched a volley previous former team-mate Asmir Begovic twenty minutes from time to wrap up a 2- earn on the night time and a 3-one mixture victory.
Ireland will take portion in a 2nd successive European finals event possessing competent by way of the perform-offs, an achievement which will increase supervisor Martin O’Neill’s present deal and absolutely make the settlement of a more time-phrase deal which is recognized to be on the desk a formality.
O’Neill was usually probably to restore Walters to his commencing line-up soon after suspension, but not risk either John O’Shea or Shane Prolonged from the begin following their battles for health and fitness, and that was the only change in staff as complete-back again Stephen Ward made way from the XI which started in Zenica.
Even so, it was his choice to utilize Robbie Brady at left-back fairly than in the midfield function he occupied in Bosnia which was to spend dividends before the crack.
Brady’s attacking instincts and pace helped to limit the impact of winger Edin Visca, who experienced led the Republic a merry dance at the Bilino Polje Stadium, even though he was wasteful from a sequence of set-parts in promising areas from which he also usually managed to uncover only the very first defender.
Exactly where Eire experienced contained in Zenica, they set out seeking to attack on house soil with Begovic blocking one particular Brady cross with his legs and Zukanovic heading yet another absent as the home facet prospered down the left.
Nevertheless, O’Neill’s gentlemen had been handed a stroke of excellent fortune when Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers dominated that Zukanovic had dealt with Daryl Murphy’s cross to the defender’s horror and, it should be said, the shock of most of those present.
But Walters was not about to pass up the possibility, sending former Stoke team-mate Begovic the mistaken way to give the Irish a 24th-moment lead.
Bosnia responded in optimistic style and Edin Dzeko drilled a lower work into the facet-netting two minutes later on and midfielder Haris Medunjanin may have done far better thirteen minutes just before the crack when he skied his shot from Dzeko’s knock-down.
Mehmed Bazdarevic produced a modify at the break when he replaced midfielder Edin Cocalic with the much more attack-minded Muhamed Besic, and Eire located them selves underneath legitimate force as the next 50 % unfolded.
Medunjanin shot straight at Randolph from distance and Dzeko unwittingly blocked a Visca energy on its way in the direction of objective before defender Ciaran Clark was relieved to see his header from a curling Medunjanin free-kick only just very clear his possess crossbar.
Senad Lulic miskicked in entrance of goal soon after Visca had escaped Brady’s attentions with fifty four minutes long gone, and O’Neill moved to arrest the slump by changing Wes Hoolahan and Murphy with James McClean and Lengthy.
Engage in moved swiftly from end to end, but Bosnia ended up searching the more threatening and Miralem Pjanic saw a 60th-moment snapshot blocked at resource soon after Medunjanin had picked him out with a clever free of charge-kick.
But the Republic extended their lead with twenty minutes remaining when, after he experienced been felled agriculturally by defender Emir Spahic, Walters was on hand to volley home from beyond the far put up right after Ognjen Vranjes could only support on Brady’s swinging free of charge-kick.
Substitute Vedad Ibisevic rattled the bar with a traveling damage-time volley, but Ireland had done sufficient.