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  • 29 February 2012
  • • 19:45
  • • Windsor Park, Belfast
  • Referee: H. Jones
  • • Attendance: 10500

Northern Ireland 0-3 Norway: Nordtveit, Elyounossi & Ruud on target for visitors to give new boss Michael O'Neill losing start

Northern Ireland 0-3 Norway: Nordtveit, Elyounossi & Ruud on target for visitors to give new boss Michael O'Neill losing start


The new manager's first game in charge ended in heavy defeat despite a promising performance from his side at Windsor Park, with two late goals adding gloss to the scoreline

Michael O'Neill got his Northern Ireland career off to a disappointing start after his team lost to 3-0 Norway at Windsor Park in his first game in charge.

A goal before just before half-time from Havard Nordtveit gave the visitors the lead against the run of play and Norway finished off the game with two further goals in the dying minutes from Espen Ruud and Tarik Elyounoussi.

Norway, ranked at 24 in the Fifa world rankings 62 places ahead of the hosts, entered Winsor Park as the favourites, but it was O'Neill's men who started the match more brightly.

Ryan McGivern provided the first glimpse of a chance with a speculative shot which forced the Norwegian keeper into an early save.

Martin Paterson came close to opening the scoring in the 14th minute but couldn’t get a finishing touch on a move created by fine work from Dean Sheils and Shane Ferguson.

The visitors’ first chance arrived at the feet of Tom Hogli after good play from Morten Gamst Pedersen and John Arne Riise, but he could only fire his shot in to the stands.

O’Neill’s team looked most dangerous down their left-hand side with McGivern, Sheils and Ferguson putting in impressive displays for their new manager.

The best chance of the half came during a goalmouth scramble during which saw Gareth McAuley, Steven Davis and Paterson all have shots blocked.

Camp made his first save for the home side after 35 minutes when he got down well to turn Huseklepp’s deflected shot around the post.

Norway began to play with more purpose towards the end of the half and took the lead when Nordveit’s deflected shot squirmed into the net and Northern Ireland went in at half time a goal down despite being the better side for most of the first half.

Grant McCann and Michael Duff came on for Corry Evans and Aaron Hughes at half-time for the home side while the visitors introduced Daniel Braaten in the place of Moa Abdellaoue.
McCann made an instant impact giving the home side some hope with a shot from 25 yards which was well saved by Rune Almenning Jarstein.

However, they could have easily been another goal behind soon after when substitute Braaten lifted his shot over the bar from close range.

The second half was interrupted by a number of changes, with Northern Ireland enjoying good possession without creating any clear chances.

O’Neill brought on Paddy McCourt and later David Healy, who became his country's second most capped player ever, as his side searched for a greater cutting edge in the final third.

The visitors came close to scoring again but Michael Duff managed to smother the Norway attack keeping his team in the match.

The home side misplaced a number of passes in the closing stages and they were met by groans from the Windsor Park crowd who felt their chances slipping away.

Elyounoussi  duly took advantage and doubled Norway’s lead two minutes from time with a superb shot from the edge of the penalty area that flew past Camp in the Northern Ireland goal.

The home side then added a third when Ruud fired in a low volley past Camp who got a touch but could only watch the ball go beyond him to add gloss to a scoreline that somewhat flattered Olsen's men.

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