Portugal favourites to qualify after dire draw

BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA failed to make the most of home advantage as they played out a terrible goalless draw with Portugal in the first leg of their Euro 2012 play-off in Zenica.

Possession was dominated by the visitors but Helder Postiga missed the best of what chances they created, while Cristiano Ronaldo again struggled to produce his club form in a Portugal shirt.

Nonetheless, Paulo Bento’s side will be happier with the goalless draw and they will be firm favourites to progress when the sides meet again in Lisbon on Tuesday.

Portugal were first to show after nine minutes when Raul Meireles fired in a shot from the edge of the box, bringing a smart save out of Asmir Begovic at his near post.

After 18 minutes the ball would not come down for Postiga, who shot over the bar from the edge of the area.

Ronaldo cut a frustrated figure as Portugal dominated the half without creating much, and the Real Madrid man was reduced to snap-shots which did not trouble Begovic.

Ronaldo threw a lump of the uneven turf to the ground in irritation after sending an effort wide six minutes into the second period.

In the 58th minute, a Joao Moutinho free-kick broke in the box to Postiga, but he sliced his shot wide.

Ronaldo weaved his way through the home defence after 64 minutes but his scuffed shot was easily saved by Begovic.

Edin Dzeko had a rare chance for Bosnia-Herzegovina in the 72nd minute, but shot just wide.

Substitute Vedad Ibisevic had a glorious chance moments later when Adnan Zahirovic’s cross reached him at the back post, but his control was dreadful and he then got in a tangle as he tried to shoot.

Begovic scrambled to save from Meireles, before Ibisevic missed another excellent opportunity at the other end, blazing his shot wildly over the bar when through on goal, though he had the pitch and a bobbling ball to cite in mitigation.

As the game ticked over into stoppage time a corner from Miguel Veloso hit Emir Spahic and deflected goalwards, but straight at Begovic.

In the last act of a game desperately lacking in quality, Dzeko saw a close-range shot well saved by Rui Patricio, but the whistle had already gone for offside.

BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA: Begovic, Spahic, Jahic, Rahimic, Zahirovic, Pjanic, Misimovic (Ibricic 86), Salihovic (Ibsevic 68), Lulic, Medunjanin (Maletic 67), Dzeko.

PORTUGAL: Patricio, Alves, Pepe, Coentrao, Pereira, Veloso, Moutinho, Meireles (Micael 81), Nani, Ronaldo, Postiga (Almeda 65).

Referee: Howard Webb (England).

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