Norway was a new team after the break: Close to victory after Søderlund equalized on a penalty
Norway-Czech Republic 1-1 (0-1)
Ullevaal Stadium: Lars Lagerbäck had anything but a good start as Norwegian coach when it ended in a 0-2 defeat against Northern Ireland in March
The loss in Belfast ensured that Norway has no chance for a place in the World Cup finals in Russia next year. Against Czech Republic tonight, the most important task for Lagerbäck’s young crew is to have a good experience.
And give the coach some long-awaited answers so he can start shaping the team that will attempt to get to the European Championships in 2020.
Good Norwegian start
It started very promising from a Norwegian standpoint on the national arena.
Lagerbäck’s boys pushed the Czechs back in the opening minutes, and especially the Elyounoussi cousins Tarik (forward) and Moi (on the side) looked fresh initially.
Tarik had a decent attempt at goal with his left foot after five minutes of play, but the ball went just about a meter wide of the far post from relatively long range.
The Norwegian boys continued in the same style the first quarter. Norway was particularly effective on the right side, where the collaboration between Jonas Svensson and Moi Elyounoussi occasionally worked brilliantly.
The big chances at goal were missing though, despite the fact that Norway at times looked much better than for a long time.
Halfway in the first half, Norway looked halfway dangerous after a Stefan Johansen corner from the right. After some ping-pong, the ball landed on Nordtveit’s head, but the West Ham player’s header was neither particularly hard nor well-placed, and was easily stopped by Tomas Vaclik.
The Czech Republic took over
Czech Republic, ranked 44th in the FIFA ranking – Norway is in 87th place – admittedly not harmless at first. The Czechs defended well and was very good at using the space between Norway’s central defenders and midfield.
Sander Berge and Stefan Johansen were repeatedly caught out to far up field, which created potential hazards. And after a while, unfortunately seen with Norwegian eyes, the Czechs took more and more over.
Norway were pushed back, and the Czechs continued to come very easily to the central area in front of Norways box.After half an hour of play the visitors had two chances in succesion after weak Norwegian defense, but Rune Almenning Jarstein denied both times with good saves.
And so it ended as it had to: The Czech Republic took the lead at Ullevaal Stadium.
The Czech’s sent a crosser in from the right, and the box was full of white-clad players. On the back post waited Theodor Gebre Selassie and the full-back hammered the ball into the roof of the net from close quarters, 0-1.
Despite Norway’s vigorous start, the Czechs took the lead after 36 minutes.
A few minutes before half time, Alexander Søderlund had a huge chance to score, but the finish from the center of the box was very weak, and went straight at keeper Vaclik.
The opportunity came after a counterattack where Tarik Elyounoussi did everything right, but Søderlund’s finish was not in the same class. The teams therefore took a break with the scoresheet showing 0-1.
Startet with 4-4-2
Norway started with the following team tonight (4-4-2): Rune Almenning Jarstein; Jonas Svensson, Tore Reginiussen, Håvard Nordtveit, Haitam Aleesami; Moi Elyounoussi, Sander Berge, Stefan Johansen (k), Jo Inge Berget; Alexander Søderlund, Tarik Elyounoussi.
Tore Reginiussen was substituted for Gustav Valsvik after 33 minutes due to injury.
Few minutes after the break, it was close to 0-2. The Czechs was again able to turn into relatively unhindered from the right. In the box, an unmarked Michael Krmencik took the ball down and left it toTomas Soucek.
The latter went for it from 17-18 meters, but the ball hit the crossbar and went over.
But the Norwegian guys obviously had a good chat during the recess, because suddenly Norway was controlling the game. And it did not take long before Tarik Elyounoussi cut into the 18-yard box where he was fouled, and Norway got a penalty.
Alexander Søderlund risked nothing from the eleven meter spot. Hard, high, in the net.
Norway continued to control events, and not long after Elyounoussi again was central when he picked up the ball and started another counterattack.
Suddenly, Søderlund was on his own with keeper Vaclik, but when Tarik only needed to push the ball so that Søderlund could put it away, he tried to score himself, but the weak finish was saved by the keeper.
In retrospect it seems crazy that Elyounoussi did not play the ball.
– The Czechs are clearly stressed now, Kjetil Rekdal commented.
Norway good in the second half
He certainly did not seem to be affected by the missed chance. Both Tarik and cousin Moi, and most importantly, replacement Mats Møller Dæhli, who came in for a weak Jo Inge Berget, played brilliantly for Norway in the second half.
Ten minutes before the end, substitute Bjørn Maars Johnsen was close to getting his foot on a crosser after absolutely brilliant play by Moi Elyounoussi, but the Czechs were able to clear the ball away.
The Czech Republic looked very tired in the final minutes, while Norway continued to hunt the goal that could secure Lars Lagerbäck’s first win as a national national team coach.
Maars Johnsen was close again deep into injury time, but did not reach the ball properly in the box and were therefore unable to put enough power into the header.
Northern Ireland with overtime win
Northern Ireland secured three more points in Norway’s World Cup qualifying group after a late 1-0 win against Azerbaijan in Baku Saturday.
Azerbaijan showed muscles at home when the team beat Norway 1-0 at the start of the current World Championship qualification, and on Saturday, the team also held Northern Ireland from their life for 90 minutes. In overtime, however, Stuart Dallas appeared and secured victory for the guests.
The team that beat Norway in the previous round of the World Cup qualifying (2-0) have 13 points in Group C and are in second place. Germany has a perfect record with a full pot and 15 points before the meeting with the mini nation San Marino, later on Saturday.
At the same time, Norway and the Czech Republic meet at Ullevaal stadion in Oslo.
Facts World Cup qualifying soccer Saturday, Group E
Facts World Cup Qualifying Football Men Saturday, Group E (6th Round):
Kasakhstan – Danmark 1-3 (0-1)
Goals: 0-1 Nicolai Jørgensen (27), 0-2 Christian Eriksen (pen. 51), 1-2 Islambek Kuat (76), 1-3 Kasper Dolberg (81).
Red Card: Bauyrzhan Islamkhan (43), Kasakhstan.
Goals: 1-0 Fatos Beciraj (2), 2-0 Stevan Jovetic (28), 3-0 Jovetic (54), 4-0 Jovetic (82), 4-1 Ruslan Koryan (89).
Goals: 1-0 Robert Lewandowski (str. 29), 2-0 Lewandowski (57), 3-0 Lewandowski (str. 62), 3-1 Bogdan Stancu (77).
|Kasakhstan – Denmark||1||–||3|
|Montenegro – Armenia||4||–||1|
|Poland – Romania||3||–||1|
Facts World Cup qualifying soccer Saturday, Group F
Facts World Cup Qualifying Football Men Saturday, Group F (6th Round):
Scotland – England 2-2 (0-0)
Goals: 0-1 Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (70), 1-1 Leigh Griffiths (87), 2-1 Griffiths (90), 2-2 Harry Kane (90).
Slovenia – Malta 2-0 (1-0)
Goals: 1-0 Josip Ilicic (45), 2-0 Milivoje Novakovic (84).
|Lithuania – Slovakia||1||–||2|
|Scotland – England||2||–||2|
|Slovenia – Malta||2||–||0|
Facts World Cup Qualifying Football Men Saturday, Group C
Facts World Cup Qualifying Football Men Saturday, Group C (6th Round):
Goals: 0-1 Stuart Dallas (90).
Goals: 0-1 Theodor Gebre Selassie (36), 1-1 Alexander Søderlund (pen. 57).
Goals: 1-0 Julian Draxler (11), 2-0 Sandro Wagner (16), 3-0 Wagner (29), 4-0 Amin Younes (38), 5-0 Shkodran Mustafi (47), 6-0 Julian Brandt (72), 7-0 Wagner (85).
World Cup Qualifying Football Men Group D:
Ireland – Austria 1-1 (in Dublin),
Moldova – Georgia 2-2 (in Chisinau),
Serbia – Wales 1-1 (in Belgrade).
World Cup Qualifying Football Men Group G:
Israel – Albania 0-3 (in Haifa),
Italy – Liechtenstein 5-0 (in Udine),
Macedonia – Spain 1-2 (in Skopje).
World Cup Qualifying Football Men Group I:
Finland – Ukraine 1-2 (in Tampere),
Iceland – Croatia 1-0 (in Reykjavik),
Kosovo – Turkey 1-4 (in Skhoder, Albania).
© Dagbladet / NTB Scanpix / Norway Today