Saturday 25th March 2017
World Cup Qualifying
Stadion Bilino Polje, Zenica, Bosnia-Herzegovina
Bosnia-Herzegovina 5-0 Gibraltar
While it may be something of a stretch into the realms of fantasy to claim that Gibraltar were robbed in this Saturday evening clash in Zenica, there will be a lingering sense of injustice for the men from the Rock after this latest defeat.
Trailing to an early goal in just the 4th minute from Hertha Berlin’s Vedad Ibisevic, Gibraltar had rallied somewhat and performed admirably through the remainder of the first half. The opener was a fine finish after an even finer lofted ball from Juventus’ Mirjan Pjanic. Gibraltar followers could be forgiven for fearing the worst at this point. But after that early setback there had even been sporadic forays up field with Lee Casciaro having one or two efforts on Asmir Begovic’s goal. One in particular, after a Begovic blunder, led to Casciaro attempting a long range effort on an unguarded net, which was unfortunately mishit off-target. He went close after a free-kick wasn’t cleared too, but sadly it wasn’t to be.
Just before the interval, however, came the moment that fuelled the Gibraltarian sense of injustice. Ibisevic headed in a second Bosnian goal from point blank range from what would appear to be a suspiciously offside position. The assistant referee adjudged otherwise, sadly, meaning that instead of going into the interval having overcome a dicey start to recover and play quite well, Gibraltar were instead going into the break two goals down and feeling rather miffed. If at one goal down Gibraltar were hoping for a minor miracle, at two down the match against an opponent even of mid-ranking European level was as good as over.
The lingering disappointment seemingly carried over into the second half as Bosnia quickly added two more goals to put the match well beyond Gibraltar’s reach. Our guys in red had to dig deep to prevent what had earlier been a promising display turning into the nightmare scenario of a potentially heavy loss. This they did admirably, restricting Bosnia to only a few more decent opportunities before the final dagger in the heart in stoppage time when Ermin Bicakcic made it 5-0 to the hosts, to the delight of the noisy crowd.
Bosnia now sit in third place in the group, just a point behind Greece who currently occupy the playoff spot.
Gibraltar are bottom of the group of course, but the performance in the first half in particular gave some hope that the upcoming ties with Cyprus and Estonia may have at least the possibility of being more fruitful. There were debuts in this match for both Kenneth Chipolina (another brother…) and Jason Pusey, and the team were followed by no fewer than 12 intrepid travelling fans,
Highlights can be seen here…
Elsewhere in the group there were no winners, with Belgium rescuing a late draw with Greece, and Cyprus and Estonia playing out a goalless draw.
Europe Group H Standings: