Norway continued their strong start to UEFA EURO 2008™ qualifying as second-half strikes from Fredrik Strømstad and Steffen Iversen ended the resistance of a resilient ten-man Moldova in Oslo.
The Norwegians had opened their Group C campaign in impressive fashion with a 4-1 victory in Hungary on Saturday, but a well-drilled Moldova side proved an entirely different proposition at the Ullevål stadium despite losing striker Victor Berco to a red card shortly after half-time. The visitors nevertheless looked set to hold out for what would have been an impressive point only for Strømstad and Iversen to break through in the last 20 minutes.
Norway coach Åge Hareide made one change to the starting lineup that had overwhelmed the Hungarians, Ole Gunnar Solskjær – who scored twice in Budapest – making way for Frode Johnsen, while the visitors kept faith with the team who only lost to reigning champions Greece due to a late goal in their opening fixture. Perhaps unsurprisingly the hosts were in lively mood early on, with Morten Gamst Pedersen posing problems down the left in the first 15 minutes. Strømstad then drilled a 20-metre shot against the Moldova crossbar with goalkeeper Sergei Pascenco beaten, but some organised defending ensured the scoresheet remained blank at the interval.
The balance of play changed abruptly less than a minute into the second half, however, as Berco was dismissed for violent conduct yet Moldova kept the Norwegians at bay until the 73rd minute when John Carew's inswinging corner from the right found Strømstad in space and the midfielder headed into the top corner. Substitute Iversen put the result beyond doubt six minutes later with an effort from distance, giving his side maximum points from their first two matches ahead of the trip to Greece on 7 October. Moldova, having won considerable credit but no points from their opening games, welcome Bosnia-Herzegovina the same day.