The Wales fans flocked to see Gareth Bale but left thanking goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey, whose heroics saved his side in this European Championship qualifying stalemate against Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Hennessey, his country’s first-choice keeper despite not featuring for Crystal Palace, made several crucial saves, including two stunning stops to keep out Edin Dzeko and Miralem Pjanic, as a Wales side missing Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen clung on grimly.
Bale provided the home side’s best moments, handing Ashley Williams a point-blank header, which the defender spurned, before unleashing a wonderful left-foot shot that had Asmir Begovic at full stretch.
But the point garnered here could yet prove crucial, with these two sides in direct combat for automatic qualification from Group B. It meant the 30,000-strong crowd, the largest for a Wales home game in three-and-half years, left contented, especially as the point lifted the team to the top of the table.
It had not taken Bale long to get into the action but, stationed at the near post, he somehow failed to connect with a cross from the right.
The team’s talisman again worried the visiting defence as he narrowly failed to volley home Ben Davies’ measured ball forward. How manager Chris Coleman must have wished that it had been Bale rather than Chris Gunter on the end of a pin-point Neil Taylor cross shortly after. Bale’s left-foot would have at least worked Bgeovic. As it was, Gunter could only fire over.
Up until that point, Bosnia had only managed only clear chance, a low strike from the impressive midfielder Pjanic, which Hennessey had to scramble low to his right to keep out. But gradually, the flow of the game started to shift. With Everton’s Muhamed Besic warming enthusiastically to the task of ensuring any threat from Bale was cut off at source, Bosnia began to take control.
The initially anonymous Dzeko was suddenly a factor, though it was his strike partner Vedad Ibisevic who carved out the best chance at this point, heading straight at Hennessey after beating Ben Davies to a Pjanic corner.
Tempers slowly started to fray, with a kick and a push from Besic on Bale earning the pair a talking to from the referee and Pjanic earning a booking for an ugly lunge on Jonathan Williams.
But by now Wales were firmly on the back foot and had to survive two scares late in the first half. First, James Chester robbed Dzeko as he prepared to pull the trigger, then Ibisevic had a penalty appeal turned down after a challenge by the same player.
Hennessey had to be at his best to prevent Haris Medunjanin turning in a cross from point-blank range, then tipped a Dzeko header to safety after a poor clearance from Taylor.
Swansea’s Williams spurned Wales’ best chance as he headed Bale’s free-kick wide at the far-post, before Hennessey again denied Pjanic with an acrobatic stop.
There was still time for Bale to have a penalty shout turned down and almost conjure a winner, but Begovic just about tipped his ferocious angled drive round the post to continue his record of having never conceded against the Welshman.Reuse content