Ireland taught a harsh lesson in Norway
Noel King’s side well beaten in tonight’s friendly international
Noel King: “Goals change games and, after Norway got the first one, they grew in confidence and didn’t look back.”
Norway U-21 4 Republic of Ireland U-21 1
Noel King admitted his Republic of Ireland Under-21 side learned a harsh lesson in tonight’s heavy defeat to Norway in Drammen.
Despite creating a couple of chances early on, Ireland failed to recover from conceding the opener on 28 minutes and fell four goals into deficit before the hour mark arrived.
Senior international Mohammed Elyounoussi was the biggest tormentor for the hosts the first-half damage by grabbing a brace. Then substitutes Petter Strand and Kristoffer-Normann Hansen added two more in the space of four minutes after the break to compound Ireland’s misery.
On the upside, King handed debuts to seven newcomers, including Alan Browne, who grabbed a consolation from the penalty spot with 14 minutes left.
With their next Euro qualification campaign not due to start until the middle of next year, the Irish will look to put this set-back behind them when they take on Russia and USA next month.
“It was a disjointed performance against a strong Norway side,” said King afterwards. “Goals change games and, after Norway got the first one, they grew in confidence and didn’t look back.”
Ireland had adapted well to the artificial surface at the Marienlyst Stadium early on, controlling possession for the majority of the opening half hour.
They fashioned a couple of openings too, in particular a 25-yard shot from Jack Byrne that curled just a yard over.
His Manchester City clubmate Ian Lawlor had the other end was relatively untroubled until the breakthrough arrived.
Molde first-teamer Elyounoussi raced into the box untracked, skipped past captain Tommie Hoban and stroked a low effort into the bottom corner from eight yards.
Ireland went further into arrears six minutes later when they were exposed down the left flank. When Bard Finne connected with the cross, Lawlor produced a superb block but there was no preventing Veton Berisha’s thunderous effort on the rebound.
King introduced four substitutes at the break to add some vitality but defensive lapses proved costly. Firstly, on 53 minutes, Ireland’s failure to clear twice allowed Strand to tap home from close-range.
Four minutes later and Hoban’s attempt to play out from back was clinically punished by Hansen who managed to angle his 30-yard effort beyond the retreating Lawlor.
Still, Ireland kept to their passing game and eventually gained a reward when Philip Roberts was dragged back by Vegard Amundsen Bergan just as he was poised to convert Kenny McEvoy’s right-wing cross.
Up stepped Preston regular Browne to tuck the spot-kick low to the right of goalkeeper Pal Vestly Heigre.
Norway: M Dyngeland; K Haraldseid, M Hoibraten, J Gronner, T Grogaard; K Skaanes, M Ovenstad, I Fossum, M Elyounoussi; V Berisha, B Finne.
Rep Of Ireland: I Lawlor (Manchester City); S Long (Reading), E O’Connell (Celtic), T Hoban (Watford), S Griffin (Reading); D Lenihan (Blackburn Rovers), P Sweeney (Reading); K Sadlier (West Ham Utd), J Byrne (Manchester City), J Connors (Dagenham & Redbridge); S Byrne (Everton). Subs: S Kavanagh (Fulham) for Connors, Watkins-Clark (Stoke City) for Sadlier, A Browne (Preston NE) for Sweeney, K McEvoy (Peterborough Utd) for Lenihan (all 46 mins), D Rogers (Dunbarton) for Lawlor, P Roberts (Dundee) for Byrne, D Connolly (Shelbourne) for Griffin (all 68 mins).
Referee: Jari Jarvinen (FNL)