Tournament underdogs Norway look threatening as Northern Ireland does their country proud
Norway took no prisoners on Thursday night securing a 4-1 win to open their campaign at the Euros. The game hosted in Southampton attracted 9,000 fans and Northern Ireland’s ‘green and white army’ did not disappoint as Julie Nelson became the first Northern Ireland player to score at a major tournament.
Norway did not waste any time as Julie Blakstad fired into the bottom left corner past goalkeeper Jackie Burns on the 10-minute mark. Three minutes later a defensive mistake from Northern Ireland allowed Ada Hegerberg to square up to Frida Maanum who finished it off effortlessly. Manager Kenny Shiels’ adamance in his desire to play out from the back proved to expose his side when playing top teams which do not fail to capitalise on mistakes from the opposition.
Norway continued to press high as goalkeeper Jackie Burns did well to stop Maanum’s strike from distance. As Northern Ireland settled into the occasion their own quality showed on the field. Abbie Magee executed an excellent block denying the world-class Ada Hegerberg from tripling their lead after she was squared the ball by Guro Reiten.
Northern Ireland defended well for a period before Nadene Caldwell’s handball gifted Norway their third of the night. It was Barcelona star Caroline Graham Hansen who took the penalty striking with power past Jackie Burns.
The highlight of the night came for Northern Ireland in the second half when Rachel Furness kept the ball in play finding Julie Nelson whose header found the bottom left corner winning Northern Ireland their first goal at a major tournament!
The side looked strong, but it was not long until Norway hit again ten minutes into the half. Guro Reiten took a free kick from just outside the box finding the goal as the ball glided over the defensive wall.
Norway was close to adding another to the score line when Hansen and Reiten linked up well to provide Hegerberg with a perfect ball to tap into the goal before they were called offside.
The game finished 4-1 and Norway proved to be ruthless on Thursday night giving a real warning of what to expect from them in the coming days. The side face England on Monday night and will prove a tough opposition.
While Northern Ireland struggled against a top-class Norway, the occasion and goal cannot be undermined as they remain legends in their own rights!
Norway: Pettersen; Sønstevold (Tuva Hansen 65), Mjelde (Bergsvand 81), Thorisdottir, Blakstad (Jøsendal 89); Eikeland (Sævik 65), Maanum (Bøe Risa 65), Graham Hansen, Engen, Reiten; Hegerberg
Northern Ireland: Burns; Burrows (Holloway 65), Nelson, McFadden, Vance; Furness (K McGuinness 74), McCarron, Caldwell (Callaghan 46); Magee, Wade (Wilson 80), Magill (C McGuinness 79)