Bosnia-Herzegovina came from a goal down to claim a crucial victory over Slovakia that maintains their place at the head of their FIFA World Cup™ qualifying group on goal difference from Greece. Four days after a home defeat against the same opposition in Zenica saw their three-point lead at the head of European Group G wiped out, Bosnia-Herzegovina were on the ropes again tonight when Slovakia took the lead through Marek Hamsik after 42 minutes.
A second defeat at Slovakian hands would have seen Greece move three points clear at the summit after they edged to a 1-0 win over Latvia, but Bosnia-Herzegovina kept themselves in pole position for automatic qualification for Brazil thanks to goals by Ermin Bicakcic and Izet Hajrovic inside the final 20 minutes.
Tonight's results mean Bosnia-Herzegovina and Greece are now assured of at least a play-off berth, with their battle for top spot coming down to the final two matches in October, which for Bosnia-Herzegovina - who boast a massively superior goal difference to Greece - come at home to Liechtenstein and then away to Lithuania.
Zvjezdan Misimovic had an early sighter for the visitors, his powerful drive from inside the area punched to safety by Jan Mucha. Slovakia settled after that scare and Vladimir Weiss carved out their first chance after quarter of an hour, firing in a shot that Asmir Begovic had to claw around the post.
The breakthrough arrived three minutes before the interval when Adam Nemec picked out Hamsik after a lightning counter-attack and the Napoli midfielder did the rest with a smart low finish from the edge of the box.
Bosnia-Herzegovina turn it around
Edin Dzeko blazed over from six yards on the stroke of half-time as Bosnia-Herzegovina battled to get back on level terms. But with 23 goals in seven qualifiers prior to tonight a 1-0 lead against Bosnia-Herzegovina was always going to be a fragile one, and the visitors duly hit back on 70 minutes when Misimovic's corner was flicked on to Bicakcic, who turned the ball home just inches from the goal line.
And with 12 minutes remaining Bosnia-Herzegovina wrapped up the win with a stunning strike from Hajrovic, who ran on to Vedad Ibisevic's lay-off to smack an unerring drive home from 30 yards past the sprawling Mucha.