Norway’s national football team was singing and dancing in the locker room after they beat Croatia in the squad’s latest qualifying match for the European Championships next year (Euro 2016). Norway won by a score of 2-0, even though one of the goals was later classified as a Croatian blunder.
Both were initially credited to Jo Inge Berget, who emerged as the hero of the evening before a crowd of nearly 27,000 on home turf at Ullevaal Stadium Sunday evening. Berget, labelled by state broadcaster NRK as a “Bohemian from Hadeland,” was making his debut on the national squad and became an instant star.
Berget plays professionally for Malmø in Swede, and he’d already had a great week as he contributed to Malmø qualifying for Champions League action. Back home in Oslo, he delivered a brilliant second half that ignited fans. Reidar Sollie, football commentator for newspaper Dagsavisen, wrote that Berget and the national team delivered “the proudest moment at Ullevaal Stadium since the 1990s, when Norway played against and beat powerhouses like Italy, England and the Netherlands.”
The victory will clearly help Norway get a spot in Euro 2016 action, after Sunday’s two goals propelled the team to the top of their qualifying group. Nothing’s certain as yet, but it’s looking much better for the Norwegians than it was earlier. Croatia had trounced Norway back in March, by a score of 5-1. Things ended differently six months later, after Coach Per-Mathias Høgmo has continued to build up a new generation of Norwegian players. Bertil Valderhaug, writing in Aftenposten, called Sunday’s result “the biggest upturn in 16 years.” The next test will come when Norway meets Malta, also at home in Oslo.