CARDIFF, United Kingdom (AFP) – Wales secured a well-earned 2016 European Championship qualifying point against Bosnia and Herzegovina in a compelling, but goalless, draw at the Cardiff City Stadium on Friday.
Despite the stalemate, there were chances aplenty for both sides with Wales goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey and Bosnian counterpart Asmir Begovic producing superb saves to deny Miralem Pjanic and Gareth Bale respectively.
While Wales will be pleased with their fourth point from two matches which keeps them one point clear of Belgium in Group B, the home side could rue second-half chances which fell to Ashley Williams and Hal Robson-Kanu, who both headed wide from close-range.
“The performance pleased me more than the point,” Coleman told Sky Sports.
“The crowd were incredible, the atmosphere reminded me of when I was a player and we took on teams at Cardiff Arms Park,” added Coleman, looking to guide Wales to their first major finals since the 1958 World Cup.
“Ashley Williams is one of the best defenders I’ve seen in Welsh football. Maybe when he attacks corners at the other end, he looks like he’s defending them.
“But he came off that pitch and he had no more to give. It was a magnificent performance.”
Following Wales’ opening 2-1 win in Andorra Coleman’s men were boosted by an expectant crowd of 30,741 – their biggest home attendance in three-and-a-half years.
Bale, with 11 goals in his previous 15 internationals, was left in space inside the penalty area, but the Real Madrid forward completely missed Chris Gunter’s right-wing cross in the sixth minute as Toni Sunjic cleared the danger for a corner kick.
Bosnia, who played at this year’s World Cup, were stung by the early pressure and Pjanic forced Hennessey, making only his fourth appearance of the season, into a smart save as his long-range effort deflected off Wales captain Williams.
Yet Wales shaded proceedings as Coleman’s ever-improving outfit attempted to get Bale involved in the action as much as possible.
Ben Davies’s deep pass saw Bale escape Everton defensive midfielder Muhamed Besic, but his volley on the run went wide of Begovic’s goal.
The home side created their best chance in the 20th minute when Davies, Bale, striker Simon Church and Neil Taylor all combined to free Gunter at the back post, yet the Reading full-back could only volley over from ten yards.
But Safet Susic’s Bosnia side, who surprisingly lost 2-1 to Cyprus last month, began to gain control of the match as Pjanic’s shot from distance flew past Hennessey’s right-hand post.