Guro Reiten’s ability to press all over the field has often paid dividends. She scored the fourth goal after Julie Blackstad, Frida Manum and Caroline Graham Hansen advanced 3-0 in the first half.
When the teams hit the field, Norway was without scoring 478 minutes in the European Championship play-offs. The drought lasted another nine minutes, but after waiting more than eight hours (and nearly nine years) for a goal in the European Championships, there was only three minutes to wait for the next goal. The match was supposed to end with Norway’s biggest victory in its long and proud history of the European Championship.
He survived 5-0 over Denmark in 1997 thanks to some finishes that weren’t in foreplay style. Ada Hegerberg had many chances, but never got any closer to a goal that was properly disallowed for offside in foreplay.
There is no reason to loosen up completely after bypassing Northern Ireland. Two rivals of a completely different caliber await next week, and matches against England and Austria will decide whether Norway advances to the quarter-finals. A 5-0 win in the opening game 25 years ago was by no means a guarantee of success. It finished as one of two European Championships where Norway smoked in the group stage.
Northern Ireland excelled right from the start with enthusiastic supporters behind them, but it didn’t take several minutes before the huge level difference between the two teams emerged and the Norwegians cleared any nerves for the first time by punishing self-confident opponents with two superb goals.
Initially, Blakstad saw only green grass in front of him on the weak right side of Northern Ireland, and Reiten played the ball with it. The left-back rushed forward unimpeded and shot into the corner.
Three minutes later, Manoum won the ball high on the field. It ended with Hegerberg, who saw that Manum was completely alone in front of goal, and the midfielder could shoot it into an open goal. The Arsenal player followed up his friend Beth Meade’s winning goal for England on Wednesday.
Norway had chances against a Northern Irish side that played very boldly against a quality opponent both in terms of the team and in all positions on the field. The Brits also played in a strange 5-2-3 formation where the top three didn’t have the strength or wanted to come back, and chances came close.
Hegerberg and Ritten had great chances already ahead of 1-0, goalkeeper Jacqueline Burns put the goal back 3-0 with a fine save from Amalie Ekkeland and Manum, before Hegerberg fired Ritten’s goal nearly finished just outside. Then there was Norway’s tiki-taka on the right, but Hegerberg’s finish was hampered by Abbie Magee, who prevented a rare team from scoring.
Just half an hour ago, Nadine Caldwell played a hand on a Norwegian corner kick. Referee Lina Letovara was close to the VAR screen and awarded a penalty. This put Caroline Graham Hansen in the corner.
3-0 against Norway in the first half was very few after all the chances Norway played.
Early in the second half, Northern Ireland cheered their first goal in a playoff when the passive Norwegian defense in the opposition’s first corner kick ended with Julie Nelson’s nod slipping across the line before being stopped by Guru Petersen.
The three-goal margin was quickly restored when Graham Hansen was fouled by Rachel McFadden just outside the penalty area, and Ritten converted the free kick into the far corner.
Norway goes into Monday’s big game against England as group leader, just as expected. Perhaps the Norwegians will later regret that they did not punish Northern Ireland more harshly, because the margin of victory for the two teams against Gambolagh in the group could be important when choosing the group runner-up.
“Infuriatingly humble internet trailblazer. Twitter buff. Beer nerd. Bacon scholar. Coffee practitioner.”