Euro 2020: Northern Ireland beat Bosnia on penalties to reach play-off final


Niall McGinn
McGinn’s equaliser came as NI started the second half strongly

Northern Ireland beat Bosnia-Herzegovina 4-3 on penalties to go through to final of the Euro 2020 play-offs in hugely dramatic fashion.

The visitors won the shoot-out after an enthralling match in Sarajevo finished 1-1 after extra-time.

Liam Boyce scored the winning penalty for Ian Baraclough’s men after Bailey Peacock-Farrell saved from Haris Hajradinovic and Edin Visca missed.

Niall McGinn equalised for NI after Rade Krunic had opened the scoring.

Northern Ireland will now play Slovakia in the play-off final in November after they defeated the Republic of Ireland on penalties in Bratislava.

Boyce had only come on as a substitute in the final minute of extra time, along with Conor Washington, who scored NI’s fourth penalty after George Saville had blazed the third one over the crossbar.

The penalty shoot-out in Sarajevo was the first in Northern Ireland's history
The penalty shoot-out in Sarajevo was the first in Northern Ireland’s history

In what was the first penalty shoot-out in Northern Ireland’s history, Peacock-Farrell, who had made a number of decent stops during the 90 minutes, dived to his left to deny Hajradinovic before Visca struck the crossbar.

To add further glory to NI’s night, captain Steven Davis won his 120th cap to break the NI appearance record that was held by Pat Jennings. It was more a night of industry than ingenuity for the Rangers midfielder, but a special one nonetheless 15 years after his international debut.

The evening had started well for Bosnia when they opened the scoring in the 13th minute. A long ball down the right hand channel found Branimir Cipetic, who was being marshalled by Jonny Evans before the Leicester City defender slipped and let the full-back break into the box.

He cut it back to Krunic, who had stepped off Stuart Dallas to find space in the box, and the AC Milan man calmly side-footed home his second international goal despite Bailey Peacock-Farrell getting a foot to it.

McGinn’s equaliser came eight minutes into the second half when the Aberdeen winger latched on to a long ball to make the most of a ricochet and bustle his way into the box before delivering a composed finish.

Brave Baraclough gets big calls right

Sending two players on in the final minute of extra-time to take a vital penalty in a shoot-out, having barely kicked a ball in the match, would be a big call for any international manager.

For one that it is only in his third match it represents commendable bravery and that is what Baraclough did when he sent Boyce and Washington on in the 120th minute – removing Jordan Jones and Jordan Thompson after they had earlier come off the bench themselves.

Having only stepped up from the Under 21s to replace Michael O’Neill as NI manager in June, the former Motherwell boss will have had much to ponder since his side were hammered 5-1 at home by Norway in his second game in charge in September.

He had a number of decisions to make with his team selection and a teamsheet that had Corry Evans on the right wing and McGinn on the left, having not started either of the Nations League matches, may have surprised a few.

However, it was experience that the manager opted for and Evans was his ever-effective self while McGinn led the second-half response that was so important to the visitors getting back into the match.

Stuart Dallas capped a super individual performance to score his side’s first penalty in the shootout before Kyle Lafferty, who replaced the hard-working Josh Magennis up front in the second half, slotted the second.

Positive response after slippery first half

Paddy McNair
McNair started in a midfield three with Davis and Saville

The match began in bizarre circumstances with NI midfielder Paddy McNair slipping to the ground as he attempted to play the ball forward from the kick off.

It set the tone somewhat for Baraclough’s men in the first half, with a number of players slipping and going to ground when trying to turn – including Evans for the Bosnia goal – while the hosts did not appear to have the same difficulty with the surface.

Barcelona playmaker Miralem Pjanic showed his class throughout the first half, going close with efforts from distance, but it was after the break that he came closest when he struck the bar with a curling free-kick.

Magennis forced a superb save from home goalkeeper Ibrahim Sehic soon after Bosnia’s opening goal, and Saville fired over from an excellent chance just before the break, but it was in the second half when NI began to show their strengths.

Getting on the front foot and putting teams under pressure was generally the tactical blueprint for success under former boss Michael O’Neill, and there was a very palpable change of emphasis in the second half.

McGinn, a peripheral figure on the left in the first half, led the charge, delivering a great cross for McNair to head over under pressure not long after the Aberdeen winger’s persistence helped lead to his goal.

The match became an exciting, end-to-end affair as Saville and substitute Gavin Whyte both had opportunities to score while the ever-reliable Peacock-Farrell produced a number of fine saves at the other end.



  • 12Sehic
  • 15Cipetic
  • 3Ahmedhodzic
  • 17Sanicanin
  • 5KolasinacBooked at 47minsSubstituted forHajradinovicat 118′minutes
  • 13CimirotSubstituted forLoncarat 105′minutes
  • 6HadziahmetovicBooked at 19minsSubstituted forGojakat 83′minutes
  • 10PjanicBooked at 100mins
  • 8Visca
  • 11Dzeko
  • 19KrunicSubstituted forHoticat 88′minutes


  • 1Begovic
  • 2Nastic
  • 4Todorovic
  • 7Hotic
  • 9Hodzic
  • 14Gojak
  • 16Hadzikadunic
  • 18Djuric
  • 20Hajradinovic
  • 21Loncar
  • 22Piric
  • 23Milosevic

Northern Ireland

  • 1Peacock-Farrell
  • 14Dallas
  • 20Cathcart
  • 5Evans
  • 3Lewis
  • 13EvansSubstituted forWhyteat 73′minutes
  • 8DavisBooked at 108mins
  • 6Saville
  • 7McGinnSubstituted forJonesat 82′minutesSubstituted forWashingtonat 120+1′minutes
  • 17McNairSubstituted forThompsonat 90+3′minutesSubstituted forBoyceat 120+1′minutes
  • 21MagennisSubstituted forLaffertyat 90+3′minutes


  • 2McLaughlin
  • 4Flanagan
  • 9Boyce
  • 10Lafferty
  • 11Ferguson
  • 12McGovern
  • 15Thompson
  • 16Washington
  • 18Whyte
  • 19Jones
  • 22Ballard
  • 23Carson

Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz

Live Text

Player of the match

DallasStuart Dallas


  1. Squad number11Player nameDzeko

  2. Squad number12Player nameSehic

  3. Squad number19Player nameKrunic

  4. Squad number10Player namePjanic

  5. Squad number13Player nameCimirot

  6. Squad number15Player nameCipetic

  7. Squad number3Player nameAhmedhodzic

  8. Squad number21Player nameLoncar

  9. Squad number5Player nameKolasinac

  10. Squad number7Player nameHotic

  11. Squad number8Player nameVisca

  12. Squad number6Player nameHadziahmetovic

  13. Squad number20Player nameHajradinovic

  14. Squad number14Player nameGojak

  15. Squad number17Player nameSanicanin

Northern Ireland

  1. Squad number14Player nameDallas

  2. Squad number8Player nameDavis

  3. Squad number7Player nameMcGinn

  4. Squad number1Player namePeacock-Farrell

  5. Squad number5Player nameEvans

  6. Squad number9Player nameBoyce

  7. Squad number10Player nameLafferty

  8. Squad number3Player nameLewis

  9. Squad number21Player nameMagennis

  10. Squad number20Player nameCathcart

  11. Squad number13Player nameEvans

  12. Squad number16Player nameWashington

  13. Squad number18Player nameWhyte

  14. Squad number19Player nameJones

  15. Squad number17Player nameMcNair

  16. Squad number15Player nameThompson

  17. Squad number6Player nameSaville

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