Hertha BSC striker Vedad Ibisevic grabbed a brace as Bosnia eventually beat Gibraltar 5-0 tonight at the Stadion Bilino Polje.
Ibisevic, currently fifth in the Bundesliga goalscoring charts, scored early in the game after a great pass from Juventus playmaker Miralem Pjanic, before he controversially tapped in a second just before half time – the goal appeared to be clearly offside but despite an unobstructed view, the linesman decided it was a perfectly legal finish. Such decisions can make or break a game; in this case it ended the game as a contest – seemingly awful decisions can happen even at the supposedly highest level.
Gibraltar had been growing into the match after their early setback, with Lee Casciaro once again putting in a committed performance as the lone striker against professional opposition. He had a few chances in the first half, notably when his pressure forced Chelsea keeper Asmir Begovic into an awful mistake. Unfortunately, Lee mishit an audacious attempt to score from 40 yards out and the keeper’s blushes were spared.
His best chance came later in the half, after he won a free kick off Schalke defender Sead Kolasinac, who got booked and as a consequence misses their next game. The free kick that came in fell to Lee, but his shot was blocked by the Bosnian defence as it headed towards the bottom corner.
Going into the game only 1-0 down would have made the second half more of a contest, however the offside second goal knocked a lot out of the Gib players, who once again conceded in the first 15 minutes of the second half – two goals from Turkish based players in Osmanlispor’s Avdija Vrsajevic and Istanbul Basaksehir’s Edin Visca made it 4-0 in the second half and once again exposed a major flaw in Gibraltar.
The rest of the game, in front of a capacity crowd which included twelve Gibraltar fans who made the long journey to Bosnia, was largely a procession, with Jason Pusey making his debut, one of two debutants on the evening (Kenneth Chipolina started, despite UEFA’s matchday graphic somehow claiming he was one booking away from suspension). Anthony Bardon, who surprisingly did not start, came on and fired an effort that Begovic saved well, before the home side capped off a comfortable afternoon through Hoffenheim defender Ermin Bicakcic.
Both teams now wait until June for their next qualifiers; Bosnia are at home again, to Greece, while Gibraltar take on Cyprus, with the location as of yet unconfirmed.