Falcons spread wings to catch prey in Bratislava
Francesco Calzona registered his first victory since his appointment as Slovakia’s national team manager in July 2022, convincingly defeating Bosnia and Herzegovina 2-0 at Štadión Tehelné pole in Bratislava.
On the back of a disappointing goalless draw with Luxembourg – who sit 42 places below the Falcons in the FIFA World Rankings – the hosts began more assertively in the Slovakian capital and were rewarded for their attacking endeavours with the game’s opening goal in the 13th minute. Recalled to the Falcons’ starting XI at the expense of Tomáš Suslov, Róbert Mak made a strong bid for more minutes, unleashing a fearsome strike that flew past Ibrahim Šehić into the bottom corner. The Bosnian display was the polar opposite of that seen in their domineering 3-0 victory over Iceland, as the Dragons failed to get going in the final third. With HT fast approaching, Slovakia extended their advantage further as Lukáš Haraslín fired beyond the grasp of Bosnia and Herzegovina captain Šehić from the fringes of the area.
After a less-than-impressive performance in front of goal in the first half, the visitors finally mustered their first shot of the evening on Martin Dúbravka’s goal three minutes into the second period, as Smail Prevljak forced the Newcastle United goalkeeper into a routine save. With the prospect of salvaging at least a share of the spoils slipping out of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s hands, Ermedin Demirović then missed a gilt-edged opportunity to halve the deficit as the towering Augsburg striker planted his header disappointedly wide of the mark.
Victory represents Slovakia’s first H2H success in over nine years, as the Falcons will now have to wait as late as mid-June until they make the 3,500+ mile round-trip to face Iceland. Meanwhile, Bosnia and Herzegovina suffered an early blow in their aspirations of making a first-ever appearance at a UEFA European Championships after a disappointing evening in Bratislava.