Bosnia & Herzegovina 1-1 Turkey: BiH One Step Closer To Play-Off Spot

The hosts rode out some late pressure to as good as eliminate the Turks...

Bosnia & Herzegovina have edged one step closer to a 2010 World Cup play-off spot by virtue of a hard fought 1-1 draw against Turkey in Zenica.

Emre Belozoglu gave the guests the lead only for Sejad Salihovic to restore parity with a sumptuous free-kick.

There were chances at either end as Turkey chased the winner that would keep them in the hunt but they were repelled by a well-drilled BiH unit.

Arda Turan hit a post late on, but by that stage, Vedad Ibisevic, Edin Dzeko and Zlatan Muslimovic should have made the win safe for Ciro Blasevic's side.

The game started at a breakneck speed, with both sides intent on raiding the other's defensive areas from the get-go. It was Turkey who were provided with the first goal though as they caught the hosts napping.

Arda's quick throw from the right gave Semih Senturk the chance to force a save from Nemanja Supic; the ball rebounded to Gokhan Gonul, whose shot was deflected into the path of Semih via the goalkeeper. The ball rolled no further than the edge of the six-yard box, from where Emre put his side into a fifth minute lead.

The Turks continued to press their hosts; Servet Cetin's cross-goal header gave Semih the chance to nod wide three minutes later.

BiH muscled their way into proceedings though; Sejad Salihovic's cross-cum-shot from the left a moment later was inches away from the outstretched foot of Dzeko.

Salihovic was to be the fulcrum of BiH's attacks in the first half; his cross forced Volkan Demirel into action on 20 minutes before he levelled for his side with a goal right out of the top drawer.

He lined up a free-kick, 25 yards from goal, and curled a text-book effort into Volkan's top corner to send the home crowd into raptures. A better free-kick you could not hope to see.

The Turkey coach, Fatih Terim, was then sent to the stands for his protestations at the award of an admittedly soft free-kick.

Salihovic almost provided for Dzeko on the half hour but his fine cross was headed only into the stands by the Wolfsburg forward.

At the other end, the fluid Turks broke and Hamit Altintop forced the best from Supic at his near post.

Zvjedzan Misimovic should have given BiH the lead before half-time in a topsy-turvy encounter; he was put in the clear and rounded Volkan but Servet got himself onto the line to make a fine clearance. Two minutes later and a subdued Ibisevic wasted a good opportunity following a slip by Servet.

Immediately after the break, Tuncay provided the substitute Yildirim with a fantastic through-ball after some neat inter-play but he was denied by Supic. Gokhan blasted an opportunity from the resultant corner wide.

However, from there, the BiH attacking force took hold following a cagey opening to the period. Senijad Ibricic provided Ibisevic with a great pass but Volkan had little trouble making the save.

Misimovic was next to feed the Hoffenheim front-man; on the hour, he rolled an effort at Fenerbahce's net-minder, but was offside in any case on a low-key evening for him.

Bosnia & Herzegovina continued to look threatening on the breakaway as Turkey pressed for the goal they needed; Dzeko's cross for Miralem Pjanic found its way to Ibisevic and back to the Lyon man but the Turks held strong inside their own area to smother the danger.

Dzeko, prompted by his club-mate Misimovic, brought another stop from Volkan before Semih alleviated some of the pressure with a narrowly off-target drive.

Bosnia & Herzegovina's talismanic forward, Muslimovic, was then introduced from the bench by Ciro Blazevic and within moments he had a sight of goal. Misimovic teed up the PAOK front-man but he drove straight at the goalkeeper.

An angled drive from Dzeko was next to threaten the Turkish goal but it went just the wrong side of the post.

Turkey tried to force their way forward; seeking a reprieve that would keep them in the running for South Africa and Arda almost gave it to them with eight minutes to play.

The Galatasaray attacker dribbled and fired from 20 yards but the ball cannoned off the post with the 'keeper beaten; Gokhan could not capitalise when the ball found its way to him in the area as Turkey sought, ultimately in vain, to keep the pressure on.

Peter Staunton,