Norway 2-2 Denmark
John Carew scored a dramatic late equaliser as Norway secured a 2-2 draw in their opening EURO 2004™ Group 2 qualifying match against Denmark at the Ullevaal stadium in Oslo.
Trailing their Scandinavian rivals with less than a minute remaining, Carew, a second-half substitute, looped in a header to send the home fans into raptures. The goal was no more than Norway deserved for a tenacious, attacking performance, with John Arne Riise and Ole Gunnar Solskjær particularly impressive.
Denmark spent the opening 20 minutes of the match camped in their own half and Norway threatened to run wild with a string of blistering attacks, including Eirik Bakke's shot that flew across goal in only the second minute following confusion in the Danish area.
However, it was Denmark who grabbed the initiative in the 23rd minute. Thomas Gravesen split the hosts' defence with a fine ball, and Niclas Jensen raced into the area before sliding the ball across for Jon Dahl Tomasson to tap over the line from two metres.
Riise on target
Riise drew the hosts level nine minutes after the restart with a powerful 17-metre strike following Solskjær's clever flicked pass. Denmark went ahead again after 72 minutes, when substitute Claus Jensen burst down the left to feed namesake Niclas. His cross picked out the unmarked Tomasson, who made no mistake with a downward header from three metres.
Chances came and went for both sides, before Carew sent the home fans wild with a looping header with only seconds remaining. The Valencia CF striker, recalled to the squad having been dropped for the recent friendly against the Netherlands, rose highest to connect with a long, hopeful free-kick from the back and floated the ball beyond the grasp of the despairing Thomas Sørensen.
Norway coach Nils Johan Semb, who has just signed a new two-year contract, was pleased with his side's performance and is looking to the future. "It would have been unjust if we had lost this match," he said. "I think we dominated throughout long periods. This was our best performance for a long time and it's definitely something to build on."
His opposite number, Morten Olsen, admitted that his side had struggled to contain an impressive Norwegian team. "I am reasonably satisfied," he said. "We tried to play in our own style but had problems with Norway's long ball tactic. I think we controlled the last ten to 15 minutes and should have had three points in the bag."