– It’s been a bit small, a little sore and a little different spread. This creates a bit of anxiety that someone might get sick. We did well and got through,” national team manager Leif Gunnar Smerud told NRK.
He would not comment on who or how many were sick before the important European Championship qualifier against Finland.
Smerud’s team still managed to pick up points against Finland and have a good chance of qualifying for the European Cup.
– This is an incredibly strong achievement of a boy. It costs a lot, and we have a number of ailments that seem to be a bit lagging behind. It was heavy for a while, but rose very high. They played a mature game and won very quickly, said Smerud.
Substitute to be a goalscoring hero
Norway struggled for a long time to destroy Finland, but then Emil Konradsen Ceïde continued with football magic.
Ceïde sent Norway ahead from the left flank after he pulled onto the pitch and slotted the ball into a corner.
– He’s looking for a gap with the dance step on the left. Now he goes straight into the goal. He just puts it in the corner in the perfect way, says VG commentator Vegard Aulstad.
70 minutes into the game, Norway made a tactical change and sent Norway’s first goalscorer Ceïde out. Enter left back Fredrik Oppegård.
The defender ended up being the big hero taking Norway one step further towards the European Championships.
– When there is so much at stake, you are nervous. But they were well organised, and they gained more power in the second half. Finland are under pressure and they have to win. So we thought if we endured the storm we would win,” said the national team manager.
The last time the Norway U21 national team participated in the European Championship was in 2013.
Busy for the goalkeeper
After five minutes, Jørgen Strand Larsen tries a shot from the edge of the box home crowd get up. From 25 yards it narrows from Larsen. The Finnish keeper had to come out with full force and make the ball go away for a corner.
20 minutes later, Norway once again came close to scoring. Ceïde took the lead on the Norwegian counter-attack before Johan Hove finally got his blow. Godset’s man was at full power from 20 yards, but the Finnish keeper had to knock him out to throw.
Towards the end of the first half, Norway’s final defense kept him busier. First, Kristoffer Klaesson threw himself on the ball after getting a chance for the home side. Minutes later he made a big save after Finland’s header.
At the start of the second half, Klaesson was again a mainstay for Norway to keep a clean sheet.
– He was in the right place at the right time. Kudos to him for positioning himself properly, said Aulstad.
Hope for EC place
Norway knew in advance that wins in the last two matches would retain their place in the European Cup.
On Tuesday, the decisive match in the European Cup qualifiers awaits Azerbaijan at Marienlyst Stadium.
– I didn’t take anything in advance. We have work to do and we have to do that work on Tuesday, and we are starting with that now. We have to do a good job. “We are not at the European Championships at all,” said Smerud.
The nine group winners and the best second place (excluding results against the sixth-placed team) advance directly to the European Championship. The second eight went into the playoffs for the last four European Championship spots in two-game finishes.
In the Norwegian group, six teams have been battling for a qualifying spot, but only Norway and Croatia in theory still have a chance to be group winners.
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