Norway’s football hopes skyrocket

Bookmark and Share

After not winning much at all during the past year, Norway’s men’s national football team ended up logging two victories in its first two matches in the qualification rounds for the European Championships. Its victory over Bulgaria was critical, with fans’ hopes soaring that their lads just may make it into Euro 2016.

Norway beat Bulgaria by a score of 2-1 on home turf at Ullevål Stadium in Oslo. The stadium was far from sold out, but more than 17,000 cheering fans finally had what newspaper Aftenposten called “an evening of jubilation.” It had been a long time since the last one.

Commentators described the first half as “brilliant, with an early goal by Tarik Elyounoussi set up by Friday’s king of the field in Malta, Joshua King and the team’s new captain Per Ciljan Skjelbred. Bulgaria eventually evened out the score but Norway fired back after the break, when Håvard Nielsen kicked in the winning goal after fancy footwork by Skjelbred and Martin Linnes.

Fans also stood and cheered when 15-year-old Martin Ødegaard was sent in to play for Mads Møller Dæhli for 26 minutes during the second half, making history by becoming the youngest player ever in a Euro qualifier. He and his teammates were said to have played with high tempo and newfound confidence. “Finally it was great again to be Norwegian at the country’s own national stadium” wrote Aftenposten’s football writer Erlend Nesje.

The next national match is set for November 16, against Azerbaijan in Baku. Euro action then won’t pick up again until next spring. staff