World Cup 2006

Qualifying match

Spain 1 - Bosnia Herzegovina 1

Spain: Casillas; Michel Salgado, Puyol (Juanito 09'), Marchena, Antonio López (Xabi Alonso 63'); Xavi, Albelda; Joaquín, Raúl, Vicente; Fernando Torres (Luque 36'). 4-2-3-1.
Bosnia: Toija; Bajramovic, Spahic, Vidic (Milenkovic 77'), Music; Grlic, Bajic, Grujic (Damjanovic 75'), Beslija; Misimovic (Halilovic 65'), Barbarez. 4-4-2.

0-1. 39. Misimovic. Picked up loose ball and ran on to round Casillas and score.
1-1. 96. Marchena. From close up after Raúl played back Juanito's headed pass.

Another below par performance from Spain following on from their narrow victory over Lithuania four days ago, and only a goal in the 96th minute from defender Marchena saved them from an embarrassing defeat which would have been a serious set back in their World Cup qualifying campaign.

Luis Aragonés's side spent most of the first half hour in their opponents half but were unable to find the route to goal, Fernando Torres heading their best effort against the bar and Albelda blasting the follow up over the top. But their opponents took the lead shortly before the break in their first effort at goal, a poor clearance from Marchena being played back in past Albelda for Misimovic to round Casillas and score. It was the first goal Spain have let in since the two sides met eight games ago, and fixed Casillas's new record at 687 minutes.

With Puyol and Torres both off injured before the break, the manager only had one card left to play, and he waited until the last half hour before bringing on Xabi Alonso. Before that though Raúl and Luque had efforts kept out by Toija, and Juanito should have done better when he headed another effort straight at the keeper from close range. But Spain were becoming frustrated by Bosnia's strong arm tackling and time wasting tactics, and despite something like 25 corners they were unable to carve out any clear cut chances.

English referee Mike Bennett had been lenient on the visitors for most of the game, and had turned down two or three penalty claims by the Spaniards. But as the tackles got harder and higher he finally started dishing out bookings to the visitors, substitute Halilovic getting himself sent off after picking up a second yellow card for a blatant dive in the area, and Beslija following him after handling needlessly a few minutes later.

By then the game was in the sixth minute of injury time, and Xabi Alonso played a speculative ball into the box, where everybody including Casillas was waiting. Juanito headed on for Raúl to hold up his marker and play the ball back, and Marchena fired home the equaliser. The whistle went seconds later and the crowd celebrated as if they had won, but the result means they are only a point clear of Serbia having played a game more than them. Aragonés knows that they now have to beat their main rivals in early September if they want to finish in that automatic qualifying position.