Despite losing 2-0 to Bosnia-Herzegovina it was one of Welsh football’s finest nights as a 2-1 victory for Cyprus in Israel ensured qualification for UEFA EURO 2016.
The atmosphere at the Stadion Bilino polje in Zenica was hostile but Wales handled the pressure well during the first half with both teams looking dangerous on the attack.
In what was an entertaining first half, Edin Visca flashed a shot across Wayne Hennessey’s goal as Bosnia-Herzegovina came close but Wales soon responded themselves.
When Aaron Ramsey was fouled around 20-yards out from goal, he stood over the resulting free kick and curled it towards goal. Asmir Begovic looked concern as tracked the ball and was grateful to see it edge wide of his left post.
It was a half of fine margins as when one attack broke down it allowed the other team to spring a counter and it resulted in some entertaining play.
Lovely play from Ramsey, Joe Ledley and Gareth Bale in the 27th minute produced another good chance to score but when the ball was whipped towards the edge of the 6-yard box by the Real Madrid attacker, it was just out of Hal Robson-Kanu’s reach.
Moments before half-time Ramsey came close again when Robson-Kanu set him free in the box. As he went one-on-one with Begovic from a tight angle, he shot low into the goalkeeper’s midriff. The ball was spilled but Neil Taylor was penalised on the follow-up and that was the final action of the half.
It did not go to plan for Wales in the second half as Bosnia-Herzegovina struck following a period of domination for Wales.
As Miralem Pjanic’s long free-kick was sent into the penalty area, substitute Milan Djuric got on the end to head the ball over Wayne Hennessey to make it 1-0.
Ramsey nearly levelled on 78 minutes after Taylor’s run up the left before picking the Arsenal man out with a fine cross. Ramsey volleyed a shot but it went painstakingly over the bar.
Moments later Bale edged a long range effort wide of the right post and Simon Church laid the ball off for David Edwards to shoot. Edwards blazed his shot over the bar however.
An 88th minute corner presented Wales with another chance to level as Sam Vokes got his head to the ball but Begovic held firm.
In the final minute Bosnia-Herzegovina made the three points a certainty when Pjanic's right-wing corner found its way to Milan Djuric at the far post. He fired across goal, where Vedad Ibisevic turned in from close range.
The defeat wasn’t to matter as confirmation of the result in Israel swept through the stands with Bosnians and Welshmen celebrating side-by-side as the result gave the home team a chance of the play-offs and Wales booked their place in UEFA EURO 2016.
I've wanted this not only as a player and a manager but a fan, as a child growing up. This is new territory now. The players deserve to enjoy this new experience. Everyone back home deserve to have a smile on their face. They've been waiting a long, long time. In my career this is the biggest thing I have ever achieved. This will not sink in for a while. I'm hugely proud to be Manager of Wales.