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England and Norway search for opening win

Published: Thursday 6 June 2013, 15.20CET
England got the better of Norway twice in qualifying and, after losing their opener to Italy, will be hoping for another victory against opponents who drew with Israel first time out.
England and Norway search for opening win
England's Connor Wickham celebrates scoring against Norway in qualifying ©Getty Images
Published: Thursday 6 June 2013, 15.20CET

England and Norway search for opening win

England got the better of Norway twice in qualifying and, after losing their opener to Italy, will be hoping for another victory against opponents who drew with Israel first time out.

England and Norway will both be seeking a first win at the UEFA European Under-21 Championship when the teams cross swords at Ha Moshava Stadium in Petah Tikva in the second round of Group A games.

• While England's nine-game unbeaten run was ended by Italy on Wednesday night courtesy of Lorenzo Insigne, Norway twice fought back from a goal down to rescue a point against hosts Israel on the opening day. Marcus Pedersen and, in added time, Harmeet Singh struck for Norway, who had been reduced to ten men in the first half following Vegar Hedenstad's dismissal.

• The teams were drawn together in the same qualifying group, England winning both fixtures to continue their strong record in competitive fixtures between the sides, which shows only one defeat in six such contests.

Previous meetings
• Paired together in qualifying Group 8, the teams met for the first time in Drammen on 10 October 2011. Early goals from Craig Dawson (3) and captain Jordan Henderson (7) put Stuart Pearce's England in command, and the visitors held on despite Valon Berisha (24) reducing the deficit for Norway, then coached by Per Joar Hansen.

• The teams for that fixture at the Marienlyst Stadium were:
Norway: Johansen, Hedenstad, Rogne, Strandberg, Nordtveit, Singh (Borven 84), Henriksen, Kastrati (Konradssen 63), Berge, Berisha (De Lanlay 73), Pedersen.
England: Butland, Smith, Baker (Flanagan 72), Lowe, R Bennett, Dawson, Henderson, Lansbury, Barkley (Gardner 55), Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sordell (Shelvey 81).

• England again enjoyed victory when the teams met in the reverse fixture in Chesterfield on 10 September 2012, the final round of group games. Connor Wickham scored the only goal two minutes before half-time.

• Those sides were:
England: Steele, Kelly (Clyne 46), Rose, Caulker, R Bennett, Marshall, Shelvey, Henderson, Ince, Wickham (Lees 77), Waghorn (Zaha 77).
Norway: Østbø, Hedenstad, Rogne, Strandberg, Konradssen, Singh, Berisha (Skjelvik 87), Elabdellaoui, Ulvestad (De Lanlay 55), Berget (Bakenga 68), Nielsen.

• England have also had the better of the sides' recent friendly meetings, running out 3-1 winners in Reading on 28 February 2006 thanks to a David Bentley double. It was even more emphatic in Sandefjord on 27 March 2009, Matt Derbyshire scoring twice and Frazier Campbell, Adam Johnson and Tom Huddlestone also on target in a 5-0 away win.

• Goals from Daniel Sturridge and Danny Rose helped England to a 2-0 defeat of Norway in Southampton in their final warm-up friendly for the last UEFA European Championship on 5 June 2011.

• Rose aside, Henderson and Jack Rodwell started for Pearce's England, Henri Lansbury and Nathan Delfouneso coming on and Jason Steele and Wickham unused substitutes. Arild Østbø, Hedenstad, Simen Wangberg, Thomas Rogne, Stefan Strandberg, Harmeet Singh, Flamur Kastrati, Remi Johansen and Berisha all started for Norway with Mushaga Bakenga a late substitute. Orjan Nyland Haskjold, Martin Linnes and Thomas Drage were unused replacements.

• The 2013 qualification series marked the third time the teams had been paired together in U21 competition. England won 2-1 in Bergen on 1 June 1977 and then 6-0 in Brighton on 6 September the same year in qualifying for the inaugural 1978 edition. While Norway were eliminated in that initial group stage, England went on to lose to Yugoslavia in the semi-finals.

• Norway came out on top when the teams' paths crossed again, in the preliminaries for the 1994 competition. Goals from Frank Strandli and captain Alf Inge Håland – who would both later have spells in England with Leeds United AFC, Håland also representing Nottingham Forest FC and Manchester City FC – gave the visitors a 2-0 success in the first game in Peterborough on 13 October 1992.

• Another player who would later play his club football in England, Egil Østenstad, scored Norway's goal in the Stavanger return on 1 June 1993. Though Andrew Cole's equaliser earned England a point, neither team reached the finals in France, Norway finishing third and England fourth in a qualifying section won by Poland.

Match background
• Champions in 1982 and 1984, England are in a fourth successive U21 final tournament and were runners-up to Germany in 2009. Semi-finalists on a further five occasions, in 2011 they failed to progress beyond the group stage.

• England won nine of their ten qualifiers this time round, scoring 26 goals and conceding only three. They kept eight competitive clean sheets including five in succession prior to their first game against Italy.

• Norway have featured in just one finals to date, back in Romania in 1998. Having qualified ahead of France, they defeated Sweden 1-0 in the quarter-finals thanks to a Steffen Iversen goal but lost by the same scoreline to Spain in the last four. Nils Johan Semb's side bounced back to defeat the Netherlands 2-0 in the third place play-off, however, Iversen scoring in each half (17, 74) to secure the spoils.

• The Scandinavian side lost three times in qualifying; twice to England, to whom they finished second in Group 8 and then 1-0 in the first leg of their play-off against France, but a 5-3 home victory in the return gave them a 5-4 aggregate success.

• Having overseen Norway's qualifying campaign, Hansen departed for Rosenborg BK in December; the following month, his former assistant Tor Ole Skullerud was named his successor with the national side.

Team ties
• Håvard Nordtveit left FK Haugesund for Arsenal FC in summer 2007 but, after several loan spells elsewhere, did not make a first-team appearance and joined VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach four years later.

• Joshua King joined Manchester United FC in 2008, departing for Blackburn Rovers FC in November 2012.

• Omar Elabdellaoui joined Manchester City FC in 2008 and spent the 2012/13 campaign on loan at Feyenoord before joining TSV Eintracht Braunschweig.

• Suspended Hedenstad was on target as England defeated Norway 4-1 in a U17 match in August 2007 to claim third place in the four-team Nordic Championship.

England news
• The players who did not feature in England's opening game defeat at the hands of Italy trained on Thursday morning, while those who played had a low-key warm down session.

• Wilfred Zaha was an unused substitute in England's first Group A fixture owing to an ankle complaint but Stuart Pearce confirmed the Manchester United FC forward trained on Thursday morning and will be in contention for the Norway game.

• Tom Ince and Danny Rose are available again following suspension. The England squad were given the afternoon off to spend time with their families, go to the beach or relax.

• While the players had Thursday afternoon to do as they please, the English journalists following the team took part in a golf day at the team's training base in Caesarae.

Norway news
• Markus Henriksen, Valon Berisha, Joshua King and Håvard Nordtveit were all involved in the senior team's 1-1 draw against Albania in FIFA World Cup qualifying on Friday. They flew directly to Israel after the game and are now available to Skullerud.

• Jo Inge Berget went off against Israel with a cut head and subsequently had to have stitches in hospital, but joined the rest of his team-mates on the beach on Thursday.

• Hedenstad is suspended after being sent off against Israel.

• Only those players who played for 45 minutes or less against Israel were involved in training on Thursday morning. The rest had a gentle gym session before going surfing and conducting interviews on the beach.

Last updated: 08/06/13 15.28CET