Iceland strike late to hold Norway to draw
Thursday, July 11, 2013
Norway 1-1 Iceland
Margrét Lára Vidarsdóttir held her nerve, converting an 87th-minute penalty as Iceland earned a share of the Group B spoils in Kalmar.
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Margrét Lára Vidarsdóttir scored from the penalty spot with three minutes remaining to give Iceland their first point in any UEFA European Women's Championship finals and frustrate Norway, who had led from early on.
After watching hosts Sweden twice fail from the spot the night before, the Icelandic sharpshooter did well to hold her nerve and add to her 11 qualifying goals. It left the two-time champions to rue their failure to add to Kristine Hegland's Group B opener.
Iceland, who lost all three games on their debut appearance four years ago, initially enjoyed a fair amount of possession, with Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir always composed on the ball and offering a significant physical presence in the midfield skirmishes.
Norway prompted through the wily veteran Solveig Gulbrandsen and constantly used the speed and trickery of Caroline Graham Hansen down the right to spread alarm. She found a number of good crossing positions but Iceland were able to regroup and smother the danger.
The breakthrough came in the 26th minute following a long punt upfield by Ingrid Hjelmseth. It carried a long way and Hegland's intent was the sharpest, nodding it forward and seizing the chance to just beat Gudbjörg Gunnarsdóttir's challenge and force the ball home off the left-hand upright.
Gulbrandsen might have immediately doubled the lead but headed wide. Hansen fired into the side-netting and Ada Hegerberg sent a shot across the face of goal; Norway were good value for their first-half advantage.
Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir and Hólmfrídur Magnúsdóttir led the fightback. The latter was offered a good sight of goal at the start of the second half but could not cash in, and then her midfield partner failed to get a positive connection on her header.
Hegerberg passed up two good chances to make the Norwegians more comfortable. That proved costly as Gunnarsdóttir, whose efforts never flagged, broke through again and was blocked by Marit Christensen. In went the penalty and Iceland were left celebrating their achievement, though they first had to endure a couple of last-gasp scares.
Player of the match: Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir