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Norway ease past Malta to keep up pressure

Norway 2-0 Malta
Alexander Tettey and Alexander Søderlund scored in each half as Per-Mathias Høgmo's side stayed clear in second place in Group H.

Highlights: Norway 2-0 Malta
Highlights: Norway 2-0 Malta
  • Norway ease to Malta win to enhance their Group H prospects
  • Alexander Tettey puts home side into first-half lead (19)
  • Alexander Søderlund makes it two from close range (52)
  • Per-Mathias Høgmo's team stay two points behind Italy
  • Final games: Italy v Norway, Malta v Croatia (Tuesday)

Norway maintained their UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying hopes with victory against Malta in Oslo thanks to a goal in each half from Alexander Tettey and Alexander Søderlund.

Kicking off second in Group H, Norway knew that a win would keep up the pressure on section leaders Italy and third-placed Croatia, and they duly seized the early initiative. Clear chances proved harder to come by, however, until Søderlund's header was deflected onto the roof of the net in the 18th minute.

From the resulting corner the ball broke for Tettey and, though the midfielder's first shot was blocked, the ball rebounded off him and found its way into the net.

Goalkeeper Andrew Hogg had been helpless then but followed up with solid saves from Per Ciljan Skjelbred and Søderlund to keep Malta in touch. That nearly proved invaluable when Even Hovland's loose pass let in the visitors, but the defender got back to pressure Alfred Effiong and Ørjan Nyland palmed the shot behind.

Norway were reinvigorated by the half-time interval and nearly doubled their lead within two minutes of the restart, Vegard Forren's header from a corner diverted onto the post and behind by defender Paul Fenech.

A second goal was not long in coming. Markus Henriksen got away down the left and Hogg could only parry his low prodded cross; Søderlund snapped up the loose ball from close range.

Almost immediately, Henriksen played in Jo Inge Berget and his centre was pulled back to Martin Ødegaard, but the substitute's effort was touched behind by Hogg. Norway, however, had already done enough for three important points.