Norway’s two most famous professional football players, finally united on the national team, have quickly raised hopes heading into qualifiers for the next European Championships in 2024. Their scoring in Friday’s friendly match against Slovakia also bodes well for Tuesday’s match against Armenia.
Both Erling Braut Haaland and Martin Ødegaard kicked in goals on home turf at Ullevaal Stadium in Oslo, but only after several missed attempts by the team as a whole. Slovakia’s goal keeper was able to ward off several attempts by the Norwegians, until he couldn’t manage to keep a goal by Haaland from slipping into his net, and then another by Ødegaard. It left Norway with a 2-0 victory when it was all over.
“It was a classic Erling-goal,” head coach Ståle Solbakken claimed right after the match, “and it was about time Martin begins to score. It was a beautiful goal, so we hope it was the start of many more.”
It was the first time Haaland and Ødegaard had been able to play together under Solbakken, who sent out his offensive gallery of stars right from the start. He’d also given them all a clear message beforehand: “I want to see that this isn’t just a training match. I want to see high tempo and intensity and maximum action and sprinters back in defense.”
It was also the first national team match since Corona restrictions were lifted, and it drew 11,048 football fans to Ullevaal. The match was widely viewed in Norwegian media as leading the way to Euro2024 and certainly Nations League matches that begin June 2 in Serbia.