Picture : Norway has confirmed his status !
NORWAY POWER 4
It was Northern Ireland's historic debut at a major tournament , it ended in a 4-1 defeat by a remarkable Norway side in their Euro 2022 opener at St Mary's in Southampton in front of a crowd of 9146.
Norway won with a clinical first-half showing, which highlighted the gap between a world-class team and a Northern Ireland team ranked 47th in the world, as Julie Blakstad, Frida Maanum and Caroline Graham Hansen all netted three goals ! The two teams were familiar with one another after they drawn in the same qualifying group for the finals tournament, with Ireland conceding two 6-0 defeats when they met in Belfast and Stavanger. The biggest cheer of the night was reserved for Julie Nelson ,who made history as Northern Ireland's first goalscorer on the European stage when her header crept over the line on 49 minutes . Nelson was the player to have that moment as the 37-year-old defender was one of the original players when Northern Ireland's senior women's team reformed in 2004 !
Guro Reiten (picture, number 11) scored a great free-kick five minutes later to restore the three-goal lead and round out what, ultimately, was a comfortable Group A victory. Ballon d’Or 2018, Ada Hegerberg, who was back at a major tournament after quitting the national team in 2017 in protest of a perceived lack of respect for female players,made a solid performance for her comeback. With Guro Reiten and Caroline Graham Hansen, she composed a great offensive trio.
Norway and Northern Ireland are back in action on Monday. Norway will face England at the Amex Stadium while Northern Ireland take on Austria at St Mary's . Group A will conclude on Friday July 15. Northern Ireland will face tournament hosts England in Southampton with Norway playing Austria at the Amex Stadium.