Author: Dafydd Jones
Publisher: Y Clwb Pêl Droed
A battling display wasn’t quite enough for Wales as they succumbed to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of group-leaders Norway.
A second-half strike from Frida Maanum broke the deadlock, after a resolute defensive showing from the hosts.
Jayne Ludlow’s side pushed for an equaliser late on, with Jess Fishlock having the be chance of the game for Wales.
The midfielder was found in space by Angharad James in the second-half, only to fire narrowly wide.
The result means Norway secure their qualification for the European Championship, whilst dealing a blow to Wales’ hopes of reaching their first major tournament.
Wales started brightly and forced the first chance of the game, as a long throw-in fell kindly to Jess Fishlock, who fired narrowly over from the edge of the box.
Martin Sjögren’s side should have gone ahead just a minute later however, when Elise Thorsnes was found free in the box, only to fire over the bar.
Norway continued to make chances for Thorsnes, whose point-blank header and right-footed drive from the edge of the box were both saved excellently by Laura O’Sullivan.
Despite the visitors controlling possession, Wales looked disciplined and organised, which has been typical of Ludlow’s reign.
Norway and Barcelona star Caroline Graham Hansen, who has scored ten goals in the qualifying campaign so far, was kept quiet in the first-half, due to a resolute defensive performance from the hosts.
Guro Reiten, who scored the winner in the reverse fixture, could have broken the deadlock before half-time, but O’Sullivan’s smart save ensured it remained goalless at the break.
The start of the second-half followed much of the same pattern as the first, as Karina Sævik weaved past Wales captain Sophie Ingle in the box, but O’Sullivan was again on-hand to save at her near post.
The visitors persisted in their search for an opener however, as right-back Ingrid Wold found space at he back post, only to blaze over from inside the box.
Norway weren’t to be denied, as the deadlock was broken in the 61st minute.
Midfielder Frida Maanum won the ball back for her side and drove towards the edge of the box, before firing a powerful effort past O’Sullivan, who was finally beaten.
Wales responded well to going behind and created a string of chances to equalise.
A brilliant delivery from Jess Fishlock was almost met by Rachel Rowe at the back post, who won a corner for the hosts.
Industrious midfielder Angharad James squared to Jess Fishlock in the box, who fired agonisingly wide with Wales’ best chance of the game.
Ludlow’s side continued to press for an equaliser, as James found herself in acres of space to drive forward, but eventually fired an effort straight at Norway goalkeeper Cecilie Fiskerstrand.
As Wales committed bodies forward late-on, Caroline Graham Hansen could have doubled the Norwegian lead, only to fire into the side-netting after a rare mistake from Sophie Ingle.
The hosts couldn’t find an equaliser, denting their hopes of qualifying for Euro 2021.
Wales: Laura O’Sullivan, Sophie Ingle (C), Rhiannon Roberts, Helen Ward (Lily Woodham 79’), Angharad James, Kayleigh Green (Georgia Walters 75’), Jessica Fishlock, Natasha Harding, Rachel Rowe, Hayley Ladd, Elise Hughes (Gemma Evans 72’)
Norway: Cecilie Fiskerstrand, Ingrid Wold, Maria Thorisdottir, Maren Mjelde (C), Ingrid Syrstad Engen, Elise Thorsnes (Lisa-Marie Utland 73’) Caroline Graham Hansen, Guro Reiten (Amalie Eikeland 64’), Frida Maanum, Karina Sævik (Vilde Bøe Risa 86’), Julie Blakstad
(Featured Image: Dafydd Jones)