Norway's players said the team could have a lot of pride in their showing at the U21 finals, with Orjan Nyland Haskjold and Stefan Johansen also praising Spain's semi-final display.
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There was a mixture of pride and disappointment in the Norway camp as their adventure in Israel ended with a 3-0 semi-final defeat by Spain. Goalkeeper Orjan Nyland Haskjold hailed a fine second-half display by Tor Ole Skullerud's underdogs while midfielder Stefan Johansen admitted that while the better team had won, his own side had "got third place in a European Championship from little Norway".
Orjan Nyland Haskjold, Norway goalkeeper
We should be proud of the performance we have shown in Israel. Bronze medal is really good so we should be proud but right now we're disappointed. We'd met Spain before and then they scored five goals against us [in March], so we knew what they were capable of.
We almost kept a clean sheet in the first half [so] of course we were disappointed to get that goal right before half-time. In the second half it was great – we really tried, we had two or three chances to score and get even but it was not our day today.
[On his brilliant first-half saves] Yes of course I am happy to get them in a semi-final as well. It's a good feeling but we lost.
Stefan Johansen, Norway midfielder
Today we lost to a better team and I just [want] to congratulate Spain because they were a fantastic team. It was really difficult, the way they pass the ball is absolutely fantastic, they have some world-class players. In the first half they were passing the ball around us and we couldn't get near to it. In the second half we should really be proud of our performance, though, because that was great.
[On coach Tore Ole Skullerud's half-time instructions] We needed to do better on the set pieces defensively and be a little bit better on the ball. You can't run for 90 minutes when they pass the ball so we took care of it and played some good football in the second half. We should be proud of the second half, that's what we're going to take with us. We got third place in a European Championship from little Norway [so] of course we should be proud.
Marcus Pedersen, Norway forward
I feel a little bit good and a little bit sad because we lost 3-0 today but we lost against one of the world's best Under-21 teams, so it's OK. [The first half] was very difficult – we were running so much after the ball. In the second half we started playing well and we had a chance – we had some big chances at 1-0 and were unlucky that we didn't score and get Spain worried.
We're one of the four best teams in Europe so I am very proud as I go home to Norway now.