By Ryan Moran
- Republic of Ireland secure away goal in Euro 2016 play-off.
- Northern Ireland earn first friendly win in 23 games.
- Wales lose 2-3 in Cardiff, England beaten 2-0 in Alicante.
ZENICA- Robbie Brady scored the advantageous away goal in their Euro 2016 play-off tie with that goal to protect in the second leg.
Bosnia- Herzegovina 1-1 Republic of Ireland
Brady’s goal could prove ever so important come the end of the second leg as Edin Dzeko denied the away side victory with an equaliser five minutes from time.
Thick fog filled he Bilino Polje Stadium with the game in danger of being called off with the score level at half time but the game continued to an exciting finale with two goals in the closing minutes.
Brady cut inside of Toni Sunuci, unleashing an effort that beat Asmir Begovic at his near post to give the travelling side a crucial away goal going into the second leg. However Dzeko finished from close after James Mcclean was beaten as Ognjen Vranjes was given space to cross towards the striker.
Northern Ireland 1-0 Latvia
Steven Davis ended a run of 23 winless international friendlies with a rebound from a saved header as Northern Ireland continued on from their Euro group stage success.
A dominant display at Windsor Park warranted more goals than what was shown on the scoresheet as a number of efforts needed to be stopped by Latvia goal keeper Andris Vanins. Jamie Ward firstly troubling the keeper, seeing his swerving effort pushed away while Davis’ side footed shot was also denied from opening the scoring as Vanins made Ireland work hard for the victory. The single goal was enough to end a barren run of results in friendlies in preparation for France next year.
Spain 2-0 England
After a first half stalemate ensued, a finish of the finest quality from full back Mario Gaspar dropped England’s morale as Spain capitalised with a second goal from Santi Cazorla.
The hosts started brightly in Alicante with Gerard Pique providing the first shot of intent from distance, drifting wide of the goal however. The visitors were getting dominated in midfield as the away side sat deep, allowing the home side possession in the middle of the park in a counter attacking style.
England’s best chance of the first half fell to Harry Kane when Fabian Delph found Raheem Sterling in space, playing the ball to Ryan Bertrand on the overlap whose low cross was met by Kane who couldn’t find the net.
The second half started the same as the first, with the hosts dominating the early exchanges and got their reward for their dominance 25 minutes into the second half. Cesc Fabregas chipped the ball towards Gaspar who jumped, swivelled and volleyed the ball over Joe Hart, the element of surprise leaving Hart with little chance of saving the effort. Two words, unbelievable tekkers.
Events took a turn for the worse as the home side doubled their lead 10 minutes later, Santi Cazorla curling the ball past a cemented Hart, instantly complaining at the linesman after the goal was given. Wayne Rooney and Kane had chances of note, hitting the crossbar and needing a save from Iker Casillas respectively.
Wales 2-3 Netherlands
On a cold wet night in Cardiff, Arjen Robben produced a captain’s performance to earn victory for the away side. Goals from Joe Ledley and Emyr Huws put Wales level either side of a Bas Dost header and Robben’s first goal.
The home side started slowly as the away side dominated the early exchanges. Debutant Tom Lawrence provided the early attacking threat, firstly getting behind the opposing defence only for a lack of support allowing the defenders time to recover and block the resultant cross. Four minutes later the striker had an opportunity to open the scoring, a left footed proved comfortable for Jasper Cillessen in the visitor’s goal.
A mistake from James Chester nearly cost the home side as Arjen Robben picked up a loose pass but couldn’t test Wayne Hennessey in the Welsh goal. The warning was given and four minutes later Dost lost Ashley Williams for a free header at the back post, giving his side the lead. This sparked improvement in their performance, dominating possession with Quincy Promes unleashing an effort straight at Hennessey, anywhere else would have troubled the Crystal Palace keeper.
The home side were offered a lifeline as Terence Kongolo was punished for a handball, the resultant penalty by Joe Allen was saved but the rebound turned in by Ledley, sending the sides in level at half time.
After half time, Robben proved to be the talisman, instantly troubling the hosts by beating the offside trap deployed by the defence and striking the ball towards an onrushing Hennessey who was able to block the effort. Five minutes later, the winger was not to be denied a second time, cutting onto his left foot, finding space before curling an effort into the far corner, giving the visitors the lead. Allen was the thorn in the Netherlands’ side as the midfielder’s cross was met by Huws, pulling his side level in the tie.
Unfortunately for Coleman, there was one more twist in the tale with Robben once again at the forefront of the attack. The Bayern Munich player found space between the two centre halves, coolly finishing past substitute keeper Owain Fon Williams. This proved to be enough as the third goal was enough to defeat a Wales side who fought to the very end where Robben’s class earned his side victory in front of a bleak away support.
England play France on Tuesday 17th November in their last friendly of the international break.
Main Image Credit: Michael Regan – The FA (Getty)
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