TUESDAY 17 NOVEMBER 2015
Republic of Ireland has qualified for the Euro after defeating Bosnia 2-0 (3-1) at Aviva Stadium in Ireland.
The Green Army have only qualified for the Euro Championships on two other occasions, which displays the significance of this victory.
Despite grasping an away goal in their first leg 1-1 draw against Bosnia, the Irish were sceptical as to whether they could break their qualification hoodoo.
Before today, Ireland had never won a second leg play-off in their team’s history, a statistic which only added to the tension.
The war of words began even before the kick-off. Robbie Keane displayed his anger at Bosnian players after they encroached onto the Irish half of the pitch during the pre-game warmup.
After a minute of silence for the victims lost in the Paris tragedy over the weekend, the game began with a deafening roar in a cauldron of green fans.
It was a sloppy start from both teams, as neither could hold possession for more than two or three strung passes.
The first goal didn’t come without controversy, after Daryl Murphy’s cross connected with the hand of Zukanovic’s hand. The call from dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers was a harsh one, as it seemed like Zukanovic was trying to move his hand down and out of the way.
Jon Walters was the man who held the weight of a nation on his shoulders. He began his run, striking the ball into the left. No mistake. Ireland had hit the lead.
It was Green delirium at Aviva Stadium as fans were already celebrating like they had qualified already.
After half time Bosnia came out flying, knowing that an equaliser was needed to take the game into extra time.
As the game reached it’s final 20 minutes, it was all Bosnia with the possession as they tried to break down the deep defensive Irish unit.
The referee was forced to be more involved as the game’s intensity grew. A shocking high boot from Spahic saw no yellow ticket, but a dangerously positioned free kick for Ireland.
Robbie Brady’s incredible 35 yard free kick caused problems for the Bosnian defence, failing to clear the ball. The ball fell at the feet of Stoke City striker Jonathan Walters, who made no mistake sending the Irish 2-0 up and ever so closer to their European dream.
The last 15 minutes would have felt like years for the players, fans and coaches but the job was finally done. Ireland had qualified for the Euro Championships for the third time in their history.
There is no doubt the fans will be partying for days to come!
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By Ari Charilaou (He’s also on twitter here)
Mundial Mornings is your morning wrap of world football. The latest news, transfers, matches, rumours from Australia and the world delivered every morning.
Photograph: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile/Corbis