Wales 1-0 Bosnia-Herzegovina
by Martin Townley at the Cardiff City Stadium for Impetus.
Above: Jess Fishlock celebrates after scoring a stunning winner to put Wales into a play-off in Switzerland next week in the World Cup qualifiers. Photo: FAW.
As always before Wales games, ‘Zombie Nation’ blasts around Cardiff City Stadium and the feeling is that something special is about to happen. As the Wales players take to the field the roar around Cardiff grows. The Red Wall in full voice could the team deliver?
Oh yes they did. Wales outclassed Bosnia from start to finish seeing four goals ruled out. Bosnia keeper Almina Hodzic pulled off save after save throughout the game. It was going to take some magic for Wales to make the breakthrough and in extra time Wales’ star player produced it.
Jess Fishlock got the vital goal in extra time, two minutes into added time in the first period. Fitting for Wales’ most capped player to get the most important goal in the nation’s history.
Wales will head to a play-off final away at Switzerland in the next step to qualify for next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup.
The first half saw Wales create chance after chance but some early runs and some fine saves from Almina Hodzic kept the scores level. Bosnia had a good chance to take the lead, but Laura O’Sullivan was sharp and made the save. Wales will have felt that should have gone into the break ahead.
Wales again had the better of the play second half, but another two offside goals and a resolute Bosnian defence held firm.
Wales started the game quickly. Kayleigh Green rolled the ball across the box for Jess Fishlock who hit it first time, but her effort was blocked. It wouldn’t have counted as the flag went up but an early sign of Gemma Grainger’s intent.
Jess Fishlock went close when a well-worked free-kick routine caught Bosnia off guard. Fishlock’s first-time hit went straight at Almina Hodzic who looked relieved to get the ball.
Bosnia won a corner that Wales put out for another, but it was from the second they had their first chance. The ball fell to Marija Aleksic whose low-range shot was just stopped by the outstretched leg of O’Sullivan.
Wales did have the ball in the net after Fishlock ran into the box and was only stopped by Hodzic. The ball fell to Kayleigh Green who had a tap in but once again the flag came to haunt Wales.
Wales were cranking up the pressure as Rachel Rowe forced Hodzic to save low to her right. Then Ceri Holland hit the upright from the rebound. Still, Wales attacked with shots blocked, as Bosnia scrambled to get the ball away Roberts put in a cross, but Hodzic cut it out.
Ceri Holland forced Hodzic into another save from her low shot across the goal. Holland got the ball from a Kayleigh Green flick-on cut into the box, but the Bosnian keeper saved her side again.
Rowe went close from another well-worked Wales set piece. Receiving the ball outside the box from a corner, she hit a low shot that Hodzic struggled to hold.
Wales should have had the lead when Angharad James’ effort grazed the crossbar as it went over. James dived onto a fine cross into the box after a crisp Welsh passing move. It was goalless at the break.
Wales escaped a scare as Hayley Ladd headed the ball back to her own goal. With O’Sullivan on the other side, Ladd had to race back to clear the ball from the line.
Wales made a quick counter when Carrie Jones won the ball and sent Kayleigh Green on a run. Green cut across the box and sent the ball wide to Holland who put a cross in, but Bosnia were able to clear.
Kayleigh Green put the ball in the net once again, but it was ruled out for offside. A crisp passing move involving Ingle and Fishlock sent Green through and the Wales forward put the ball under the keeper. The goal was ruled out to huge boos from the Welsh fans.
Hodzic pulled off the save of the game from a cross into the six-yard box by Holland. Crawling a fingertip to the ball before the advancing Fishlock could reach it.
Ffion Morgan fired a powerful effort past Hodzic from a cross into the box sending the crowd wild. Again, a flag went up and after a VAR check another Welsh goal was ruled out.
Just seconds later Fishlock thought she had scored after a clear ball to put her though, but replays showed she had gone a fraction offside. Despite all Wales’ chances, it was 0-0 at the end of the 90 minutes.
Wales began extra time attacking from the off and won a corner from Ffion Morgan’s cross. Fishlock sent it in the box but neither Evans nor Holland could direct a header goalwards.
Good work from Rowe down the right won Wales another corner. Fishlock sent the ball to the back of the penalty area where Ceri Holland was free, but her header went over the bar.
In added time at the end of the first period, Wales finally took the lead. A free kick from out on the right by Rowe found the run of Fishlock and with a deft touch, the Welsh star sent the ball past Hodzic to send the home crowd wild.
After going behind Bosnia had to try and push forward and test the Welsh defence. Gemma Grainger’s team had other ideas as they kept going about the way they had been.
Ceri Holland tried to bend the ball in from outside the box, but her effort didn’t have the pace to beat Hodzic.
As the minutes ticked away Wales did a great job of pinning Bosnia in their own half and killing the clock.
Teams: WALES (4-1-4-1): O’Sullivan, Evans, Roberts, Ladd, Rowe, Ingle, Holland, James, Jess Fishlock (Ward 115′), Jones (Morgan 80′), Green (Wynne 120).
Scorer: Fishlock 105+2′
BOSNIA-HERZEGOVIA (4-2-3-1): Hodzic, Sliskovic (Taslidza 81′), Hasanbegovic, Milinkovic, Kapetanovic (Medic 70′), Aleksic, Piskic (A. Mujanovic 113′), Ena Sabangic, Spasojevic (Grebenar 105+2′), Gavric (Markovic 113′), Minela Gacanica (Jelcic 70′).
Referee: Marta Huerta de Aza.