Tore André Flo secured a place in the UEFA EURO 2004™ play-offs for Norway after a narrow 1-0 victory over Luxembourg in Oslo.
Second place secured
The Norwegians finished second in Group 2 behind Denmark, who drew 1-1 in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and therefore edged out the Bosnians on head-to-head results. Luxembourg, meanwhile, finished bottom of the group without a point, or a goal, to show for their eight games.
Norway started at a fast pace with a long ball into the Luxembourg box in the first minute falling kindly to Roar Strand. Although he mis-hit his shot the ball ended at the feet of striker Harald Brattbakk whose effort flashed just centimetres wide of goal.
Norway's second opening of the match, after 18 minutes, resulted in Flo's goal. A smart pass from Brattbakk found Flo and he made no mistake from six metres out, hammering his effort into the roof of the Luxembourg net. Flo almost doubled Norway's lead seven minutes later when he controlled the ball on the edge of the area before firing in a rising shot that shaved the crossbar.
Ten minutes into the second period Flo forced a decent save out of Luxembourg goalkeeper Alija Besic with a header from a Henning Berg cross. Norway were getting precious little inspiration elsewhere, though, and they almost suffered a sucker punch in the 76th minute when Luxembourg came close to equalising, only for their final touch to desert them.
News from Sarajevo
A second Norwegian goal never did come but with the news filtering in from Sarajevo that Denmark had held Bosnia-Herzegovina to a draw, the Norwegians were able to celebrate nonetheless. "We did not play very well today," admitted coach Semb after the match. "We should have scored more goals but we had in our minds to secure our 1-0-lead when we knew the score in Bosnia."