Northern Ireland kept their European Championship dreams alive with a dramatic penalty shootout win over Bosnia and Herzegovina after a 1-1 draw in normal time.

The visitors took full advantage of goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell's penalty saving expertise as he stopped a spot-kick from Haris Hajradinovic, with substitute Liam Boyce scoring to secure a place in the play-off finals against Slovakia.

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The hosts made an electric start as the brilliant Miralem Pjanic pulled all the strings in midfield, sending the Northern Irish backline this way and that on a slippery pitch.

A slip did cost the visitors when Jonny Evans fell, leaving Branimir Cipetic in space behind the defence. The left-back found Rade Krunic eight yards out, and the midfielder duly slot past Peacock-Farrell.

The visitors almost responded immediately when Corrie Evans picked out Josh Magennis inside the box. But Bosnian shot-stopper Ibrahim Sehic pulled off a remarkable diving save to keep his side ahead.

George Saville also went close to an equaliser just before half-time, blasting over from close range. Pjanic also had chances for Bosnia and was a constant pain in the first 45, but the momentum was with the visitors.

Northern Ireland flew into the second half and hit a deserved equaliser when John McGinn latched on to a Josh Magennis header, rifling past Sehic.

Moments later, they could have taken the lead through a Paddy McNair header, but the game was end-to-end as both goalkeepers made smart saves within minutes of the equaliser.

Josh Magennis of Northern Ireland wins the ball against Bosnia and Herzegovina

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Both sides committed men forward and Bosnia began to dominate again as Pjanic, Eden Dzeko and Edin Visca created excellent chances. But extra-time was needed after there was nothing to separate the two sides in 90 minutes.

Substitute Jordan Thompson and Visca had efforts saved as extra-time proved as frantic as normal time, but neither side had the legs to score a winner and it needed a penalty shootout to settle it.


Miralem Pjanic (Bosnia and Herzegovina). Pjanic was here, there and everywhere for Bosnia and was by far the best player on the pitch. He will be unlucky not to feature at next summer's European Championships.


Northern Ireland made of metal. You'd have bet your house on Bosnia winning this one after a first 15 minutes where Northern Ireland looked utterly insipid.

But the opening goal brought the Green and White army to life, and the visitors fought their way out of a corner and back into the game. Each player showed nerves of steels on a slippery pitch in hostile conditions in front of a loud home support.

From defence to attack everyone did their job brilliantly and they leave Bosnia deserving of their place in the play-off final. They had ice in their veins during the shootout, and will fancy their chances against Slovakia in November.

Northern Ireland Steven Davis tussles for possession against Bosnia and Herzegovina

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Bosnia XI: Sehic 7, Cipetic 7, Ahmedhodzic 6, Sanicanin 6, Kolasinac 7, Cimirot 6, Hadziahmetovic 7, Pjanic 8, Visca 7, Dzeko 6, Krunic 7. Subs. Gojak 6, Hotic 6, Loncar 5, Hajradinovic n/a.

Northern Ireland XI: Peacock-Farrell 7, McNair 7, J Evans 6, Cathcart 6, Lewis 6, C Evans 7, Dallas 7, Davis 6, Saville 6, McGinn 7, Magennis 6. Subs. Whyte 6, Jones 6, Thompson 7, Lafferty 5, Boyce n/a, Washington n/a.


14' - GOAL! BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA 1-0 NORTHERN IRELAND (Krunic). Bosnia have the lead they deserve and Northern Ireland are at sixes and sevens again.Jonny Evans slips this time and Cipetic has an easy pull-back for Krunic who slots home from eight yards out for his second international goal.

15' - GREAT SAVE! What a response that would have been!Corrie Evans picks out Magennis and it's a simply brilliant save from Sehic.

45+1' - CLOSE! Northern Ireland could and maybe should be level as Saville rushes in on the volley but blasts over via a deflection.

54' - GOAL! BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA 1-1 NORTHERN IRELAND (McGinn). The dream is alive!Magennis wins a header up top and knocks down for McGinn. The Aston Villa man has a stroke of luck as the ball bounces off the backline before he strikes home past Sehic.Game on!

58' - It is absolute carnage out there! At one end, Peacock-Farrell pulls off a brilliant save. At the other, Saville forces a fine save too!

62' - BAR! Pjanic smacks the bar from a free-kick! Northern Ireland survive!

70' - Far too easy for Bosnia and Dzeko should score as the Northern Ireland backline lose all communication. Cathcart and the 'keeper were not on the same wavelength.

94' - SAVE! Bosnia just back off and off and Thompson - who carried the ball about 40 yards - rifles at Sehic who makes a brilliant save.


Steven Davis made his 120th international appearance for Northern Ireland, a new record.

Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis

Image credit: Getty Images

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