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Pedersen keeps Norway in Group 8 reckoning

Norway 1-0 Azerbaijan
Marcus Pedersen scored the only goal as Norway edged past Azerbaijan to stay in touch with England at the top of qualifying Group 8.

Joakim Våge Nielsen (left) helped Norway to victory against Azerbaijan
Joakim Våge Nielsen (left) helped Norway to victory against Azerbaijan ©Patrik Levický

Norway squandered a host of chances in their UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifying Group 8 encounter with Azerbaijan, but Marcus Pedersen's goal was enough to keep them in touch with section leaders England.

With few openings for either side in the first half-hour, it was Pedersen who provided the first moment of excitement, the Vitesse forward planting a perfect header past Salahat Aghayev after Vegar Hedenstad's excellent run and cross from the left. Minutes later Harmet Singh tested Aghayev, who showed excellent reactions to keep the lead to one.

The hosts continued to dominate after the break but Pedersen, substitute Jo Inge Berget and Anders Konradssen all spurned clear openings. Berget had a free-kick blocked on the line and captain Stefan Strandberg blasted the rebound over the bar, but it mattered little as Norway completed the double over Azerbaijan to move five points behind England with a game in hand.

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