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There was a sense of relief in the Norway camp after they overcame Belgium 3-2 in front of almost 2,500 fans at the Ullevaal Stadion in Oslo, setting up a last-game showdown with Iceland here on Wednesday, which they will need to win to reach the UEFA Women's EURO 2013 finals top of Group 3 and avoid the play-offs.
The home side made the perfect start at the Ullevaal Stadion when Elise Thorsnes reacted quicker than goalkeeper Sofie Van Houtven to Isabell Herlovsen's header into the area to score after four minutes but the visitors' resolve ensured home nerves were tested after half-time.
Herlovsen's header made it 2-0 but Belgium, who needed a draw to keep their qualification hopes alive, gained a foothold four minutes later when Tessa Wullaert's low drive from 20 metres flew inside the near post. Norway restored their two-goal advantage through Marit Christensen's header from Lene Mykjåland's corner but substitute Annaelle Wiard drilled in following a half-clearance to leave Belgium with plenty of encouragement for the future after a campaign few expected to remain alive for so long.
Eli Landsem, Norway coach
The performance was not good but we got the victory and that's the most important thing. We started well in both halves but it was not good. They got two goals back and it was not a good performance by our defenders. Iceland were good and deserved their victory but we are in better shape now then we were then and hopefully we will be in better shape than we were today. We have everything to win.
Ives Serneels, Belgium coach
I'm proud of my team. If you concede a goal after three minutes then you must be a team to not go down under. We came back from 2-0 and 3-1 and in the second half we had pressure, and I think Norway were not 100% sure for the three points. They are strong with their heads, with corners and free-kicks, and that made the difference. Now we are disappointed, but also happy because after eight games we were still playing for first or second place.
Ingrid Hjelmseth, Norway goalkeeper
We were good in the first 15 minutes of both halves but it seemed after we went 1-0 and 2-0 up we were too passive and scared to lose. But we did what we had to do and that was to win today. They had chances [last time the sides met] and we scored from a corner late in the game so we expected a tough game.
Leni Larsen Kaurin, Norway forward
It was good to get a goal that early but after that we lost some of the pressure we put on Belgium. After that, Belgium had some pressure but neither side had any big chances. It was a really hard game.
Heleen Jaques, Belgium captain
I think we played very well but it was hard because we conceded the goal so early. We had to recover from it but we did it well. It is hard because we let in two goals from corners but I think we can be proud of our game and our whole campaign.
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