Belfast Telegraph

Sports Awards

Edin Dzeko double downs Northern Ireland as O'Neill's men on brink of UEFA Nations League relegation

Bosnia & Herzegovinia 2-0 Northern Ireland

By Gareth Hanna

Two goals from Man of the Match Edin Dzeko downed Northern Ireland in Sarajevo on Monday evening.

The result means Michael O'Neill's side could be relegated by the time they host Austria in their final UEFA Nations League group game next month.

Manager's reaction:

Should Bosnia and Herzegovinia, who are on the cusp of winning the group, fail to win in Vienna on November 15, Northern Ireland will be relegated to League C regardless of their result at Windsor Park three days later.

GAWA gallery:

Roma striker Dzeko terrorised the Northern Ireland defence and thoroughly deserved his two goals. The first arrived on 27 minutes, a simple finish after Edin Visca had unselfishly squared to the striker. He had been let in by an unfortunate slip from Northern Ireland full-back Jamal Lewis. Dzeko also lashed in an astounding volley before the break but that was harshly ruled out for offside.

By then, Northern Ireland should really have been ahead. Michael O'Neill's boys made a bright start but George Saville couldn't convert, either when he volleyed Steven Davis' inch-perfect cross wide, nor when he struck the post with an impressive effort just minutes later.

Northern Ireland have not scored in six away games and they'll have no better opportunity than fell to Gavin Whyte, shortly after his 58th minute introduction. The Oxford United winger had done well to climb high and get a head on Stuart Dallas' cross but when his effort was returned for a rebound, the goal was gaping and he could only hit the post.

As he had done in the first half, Dzeko showed NI just how to finish soon after. He made the most of space created as NI chased the game and swapped their right wing-back Paddy McNair for striker Kyle Vassell, ghosting into acres of space and curling into the bottom corner.

Whyte's injury-time cross then nicked off a defender but came back off the post, summing up another night of frustration for Northern Ireland.

Here's the match as it happened:

Belfast Telegraph Digital

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.


From Belfast Telegraph