Northern Ireland beaten again in UEFA Nations League


Monday, 15th October 2018, 10:43 pm
Updated Monday, 15th October 2018, 11:00 pm
Bosnia celebrate scoring a goal against Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland suffered their sixth defeat in seven games with a 2-0 reverse on Monday night in Sarajevo.

It leaves them with nil points from three games in their UEFA Nations League group campaign and facing relegation to League C.

Liam Boyce was named in Northern Ireland's starting line-up for their Nations League clash against Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Boyce replaced Josh Magennis as the lone striker with Michael O'Neill's side looking to end a run of five away games without a goal.

Corry Evans replaced Shane Ferguson on the left wing in the other change from Friday's 1-0 defeat against Austria in Vienna.

Evans was named as captain as he earned his 50th cap.

He and brother Jonny became the second set of brothers to win 50 or more caps for any of the home nations following Gary and Phil Neville.

Northern Ireland's Liam Boyce and Bosnia's Miralem Pjanic during Monday night's game

Northern Ireland attacked with a verve early on which defied O'Neill's assertion this competition was no longer a priority, with George Saville having three early sights of goal.

The best of them came in the 20th minute when he struck a post with a first-time shot from Jamal Lewis' cross.

But Bosnia struck first in the 27th minute when Lewis slipped to gift the ball to Edin Visca inside the box, and he played in Edin Dzeko for an easy finish.

Dzeko had the ball in the net again with a powerful volley moments later but was denied by the offside flag.

Replays suggested Dzeko had been wrongly denied, and Northern Ireland looked rattled as Bosnia pushed to press home the advantage.

Ollie Norwood was booked for bringing down Elvis Saric on the edge of the area and was relieved to see Miralem Pjanic send the resulting free-kick narrowly over.

Dzeko threatened again but his shot took a deflection and was held by Bailey Peacock-Farrell, while Ognjen Vranjes sent a spectacular effort from the edge of the area just wide to keep it to 1-0 at half-time.

The second half began with Bosnia on top. Muhamed Besic played in Dzeko in the 54th minute but after a poor first touch his shot was blocked by Peacock-Farrell.

Saric arrived on the follow-up and tried to place a shot from the edge of the area but Northern Ireland's goalkeeper was equal to the task.

Gavin Whyte came on to replace Norwood and almost immediately struck a post when it looked easier to score. The Oxford man rose to meet Stuart Dallas' cross at the far post and when that was saved by Sehic the ball fell back to Whyte, who fired against the post from point-blank range.

And the miss looked even more costly moments later when Dzeko doubled the lead with a low shot after finding himself in plenty of space to meet Pjanic's cross.