Norway men’s national soccer team ties, wins crucial weekend
World Cup qualifying Oct. 8, 10
Business & Sports Editor
The Norwegian American
Norway national men’s soccer manager, Ståle Solbakken, is pressing the right buttons. In a weekend with two crucial World Cup qualifying matches, Norway was already without injured Erling Braut Haaland, Alexander Sørloth and Joshua King. Then Morten Thorsby received another yellow card in the Oct. 8 game, leaving him out of the Oct. 11 match because of accumulation.
Norway is showing it has depth. In the Oct. 11 game, Mohamed Elyounoussi scored both goals in a 2-0 victory over Montenegro before more than 20,000 fans–including Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit–at Oslo’s Ullevaal Stadion. With two games remaining, Norway moved within two points of Group G leader Netherlands, which routed Gibraltar 6-0. A penalty kick in 90’+9 gave third-place Turkey a 2-1 victory over Latvia, leaving the Turks two points back of Norway. Montenegro is now six points behind Norway.
Solbakken had cautioned the match would be tough and physical, and he was correct. In the 29th minute, Martin Ødegaard and Jens Petter Hauge engineered a short corner kick with Ødegaard passing to Hauge, who sent a diagonal pass to Marcus Holmgren Pedersen, whose shot hit the post. Stefan Strandberg won the air battle for the ball in front of the goal, and it went over Andreas Hanche-Olsen, dropped in front of Elyounoussi, who dived forward and put the ball in the net. The second goal came in 90’+6. Montenegro had no shots on goal.
If the goal looked familiar, Norway scored in a similar fashion in the Oct. 8 game against Turkey. Kristian Thorstvedt, moved to striker with the absence of the three injured players, scored in the 41st minute to enable Norway to draw with Turkey 1-1 in Istanbul. Ødegaard prepared to take a corner kick, but Hauge had other ideas. He sent a short pass to Ødegaard, who served the ball. Hanche-Olsen headed the ball to Thorstvedt, who got behind Turkey’s Zeki Celik, caught the ball with his thigh and booted it home. It offset Kerem Akturkoglu’s sixth-minute goal for Turkey. Elyounoussi missed scoring by inches in stoppage time, with the whistle blowing right after.
Netherlands beat Latvia 1-0 and Montenegro beat Gibraltar 3-0.
Norway hosts Latvia on Nov. 13, followed by the showdown with the Netherlands on Nov. 16 in Rotterdam in the last group match. Turkey hosts Gibraltar and visits Montenegro on those dates, while the Netherlands travels to Montenegro before the Norway match. The winner of the group automatically qualifies for next year’s World Cup in Qatar.
Solbakken had an announcement after the game that will excite Norway fans. Haaland has started practicing.
This article originally appeared in the Oct. 22, 2021, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.