MX23RW : Sunday, January 20 07:44:52

Match Analysis: Republic of Ireland 2-0 Bosnia-Herzegovina

Sports Mole reviews the action from Dublin as the Republic of Ireland seal their place in Euro 2016 after beating Bosnia-Herzegovina 2-0 on the night.

The Republic of Ireland outfought Bosnia-Herzegovina in Dublin tonight to clinch a 2-0 win and seal their spot in Euro 2016 via a 3-1 aggregate victory.

Jonathan Walters was the hero at the Aviva Stadium as the Stoke City man struck in both halves to help the Irish book their ticket to France next summer.

Here, Sports Mole analyses how Martin O'Neill's side went about qualifying for their second successive European Championship.

Match statistics

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
Shots: 8
On target: 5
Possession: 36%
Corners: 3
Fouls: 12

BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA
Shots: 8
On target: 4
Possession: 64%
Corners: 5
Fouls: 14

Was the result fair?

Without a doubt. Few can argue that the right team is not bound for France. Bosnia-Herzegovina were poor in Friday's first leg, and Mehmed Bazdarevic's side were woeful here again. Their wealth of second-half possession tonight was by design, with the hosts - who led through Walters's penalty at the break - confidently sitting back and weathering what were light drizzles of pressure from the visitors. Despite a few star-studded names, they never really looked like scoring tonight. The Irish deserved to win the match and the tie.

Republic of Ireland's performance

Leading the tie on the away-goal rule, a 0-0 would have been good enough for the Republic of Ireland after their 1-1 draw in Zenica on Friday. Right from kickoff, though, it was obvious that they had no intention of sitting back for 90 minutes. They looked the better, hungrier side early on and, without knowing the score, it looked like the Irish were the ones chasing this one.

Nevertheless, the 'luck of the Irish' adage is bound to be used in the wake of this. It was six years ago this week when Thierry Henry's handball effectively denied the Irish a World Cup spot. Tonight, luck was certainly on their side. Daryl Murphy's hopeful cross looked to brush the hand of Ervin Zukanovic and referee Bjorn Kuipers immediately pointed to the spot. It was a harsh concession, but the hosts did not care; nor did Walters, who sent former Stoke City teammate Asmir Begovic the wrong way.

Cries of 'Ole, Ole, Ole' echoed around the Aviva Stadium for much of the second period as the home fans looked to be the 12th man. Their team did not need one. Centre-back duo Richard Keogh and Ciaran Clark were surprisingly comfortable as they repelled everything thrown at them by a relatively apathetic Bosnia attack.

On 71 minutes, the Irish moved so close to France they could smell the baguettes and croissants. The lively Robbie Brady swung in a wonderful cross, which was sliced into the path of the unmarked Walters, who nonchalantly passed home at the near post to send the home support delirious. From there, it was a simple route to the victory and a surprisingly simple route to Euro 2016. Bosnia-Herzegovina were the highest-ranked team in the playoffs, but the Irish simply had too much fight for them over two legs.

Bosnia-Herzegovina's performance

Bazdarevic called on his side to show "more heart" in the wake of Friday's lacklustre performance in Zenica. His appeal fell on deaf ears. Bosnia-Herzegovina were horrendous once again on a night when they needed their big names to come to the fore.

Edin Dzeko, the spearhead in their 4-2-3-1, was ineffective as green shirts swarmed him within seconds of getting the ball. Miralem Pjanic certainly has the magic to inspire his country on nights like this, but he was lacking the wand again tonight. The lack of fight and discipline was glaring in both legs, and Emir Spahic somehow avoided a second yellow card after making a series of challenges which certainly warranted one.

Despite a perceived lack of fight, they needed luck on their side and Kuipers did them no favours by penalising Zukanovic for what seemed an accidental handball. Walters rolled past Begovic from 12 yards and it was then easy for the Irish - perhaps too easy. Second-half sub Vedad Ibisevic struck the crossbar in the dying stages, but scoring even once would have flattered the visitors immensely. They did nowhere near enough in this tie.

Sports Mole's man of the match

Jonathan Walters: The Stoke City man was not always involved - actually, he was relatively anonymous - but Walters, as he so often is for his country, was decisive again. He opened the scoring by rolling home a penalty which he never looked like missing, before side-footing home the second on 71 minutes as the Irish took a big step into Euro 2016.

Biggest gaffe

Ognjen Vranjes was recalled to the starting lineup, and the right-back hardly covered himself in glory throughout a first-half in which he was tormented by Brady. But it was an error in the second half which led to the second and killer goal, when Vranjes's sliced clearance sat up nicely for Walters, who made no mistake at the near post.

Referee performance

In truth, Kuipers had a poor game; firstly by wrongly pointing to the spot following Zukanovic's handball, before ignoring Spahic's best efforts to pick up a second yellow card.

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Martin O'Neill the manager of the Republic of Ireland reacts during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015
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TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool23193154124260
2Manchester CityMan City22172359174253
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs22160646222448
4Chelsea23145440192147
5Arsenal23135548321644
6Manchester UnitedMan Utd23135546331344
7Watford239683232033
8Wolverhampton WanderersWolves239592731-432
9Leicester CityLeicester2394102929031
10West Ham UnitedWest Ham2394103034-431
11Everton238693433130
12Bournemouth2393113342-930
13Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2375112532-726
14Crystal Palace2364132232-1022
15Southampton2357112540-1522
16Burnley2364132343-2022
17Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2356121931-1221
18Cardiff CityCardiff2354141944-2519
19Fulham2235142049-2914
20Huddersfield TownHuddersfield2225151337-2411

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