Guro Reiten scored the pick of Norway's four goals as Martin Sjögren's side kicked off UEFA Women's EURO 2022 Group A with a comfortable victory.
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The tournament debutants were shown little mercy as Norway marked Ada Hegerberg's return to Women's EURO action with a confident Group A victory in Southampton.
10' Blakstad breaks deadlock with powerful low shot
13' Maanum gets second after Norway pounce on clearance
31' Graham Hansen converts penalty awarded for handball
49' Nelson heads one back
54' Reiten responds with sweet free-kick
Match in brief: Norway show their class
Beaten 6-0 twice by Norway in qualifying, Northern Ireland went behind after ten minutes. Guro Reiten's ball picked out Julie Blakstad on the left, her low shot fizzing inside Jacqueline Burns' post. Three minutes later, Norway hustled their opponents off the ball as Northern Ireland looked to build from the back, and Hegerberg squared for Frida Maanum to score a second.
Having failed to score at all in three of their EURO 2017 games, Norway made up for lost time by getting a third. Nadine Caldwell was penalised for handling after a VAR check, and Caroline Graham Hansen converted from the spot – though the valiant Burns got a hand to her effort.
Northern Ireland won their first corner not long after the break, and unexpectedly found the target, Julie Nelson heading in from Rachel Furness's cross after Norway failed to clear their lines, but normal service was soon restored, Reiten beating Burns with a cunningly-struck free-kick.
The willingness of Abbie Magee and goalkeeper Burns, and some lapses in Norway's finishing, helped to keep the scoreline respectable. It was a comprehensive defeat for Kenny Shiels' side, but certainly not a humiliation.
Visa Player of the Match: Caroline Graham Hansen (Norway)
"Playing between the lines, she showed her ability to take players on one-on-one, and receive and control the ball in tight areas. Creative and exciting to watch, she laid off the ball well with deft touches and made great runs forward to get possession."
UEFA Technical Observer panel
Philip O'Connor, Norway reporter
A win with four goals scored is a pleasing start, but there will be frustration at the breakdown in communication which allowed Northern Ireland to get on the scoresheet. Norway's attacking play was breathtaking at times, and there is plenty of time to tighten up those defensive details ahead of their meeting with hosts England on Monday.
Samantha Miller, Northern Ireland reporter
We expected it to be a challenge for Northern Ireland tonight and so it proved to be against a Norway side who already look like real contenders to win the tournament. Northern Ireland regrouped well after the interval, and scoring their first finals goal will give them a confidence boost ahead of their meeting with Austria.
Martin Sjögren, Norway coach: "We could have scored a couple more in the first half. I'm very pleased with the first 45 minutes, but then Northern Ireland came back, we got a bit sloppy and we can't be that in a big tournament because then you will get punished, which is what happened. But then we bounced back quite quickly, so I'm very very happy with our performance."
Caroline Graham Hansen, Norway midfielder: "I felt like we played well. It's the first game and you want to get going, and if everything was perfect today, we would have nowhere to go for the rest of the tournament. We just want to keep working and try to learn from our mistakes, and we have a good chance to do that against England."
Kenny Shiels, Northern Ireland manager: “We’ve created a monster cause we’ve grown too quick. Up against a team of this quality, it’s tough. We did a lot of good stuff. There was creativity. For the last 15 minutes of the first half, the first 15 minutes of the second, we pinned them back.”
Julie Nelson, Northern Ireland defender: "We knew it was going to be a difficult match. We really stepped up and did our best after the two early goals. In the second half, we restricted them: they didn't have many chances. We made ourselves hard to beat and that's what we need to do. It's an incredible feeling to score the first goal for Northern Ireland in a championship."
- The last time Norway scored four goals or more in a Women’s EURO finals game came in 2005 when they beat Italy 5-3 (also in England)
- Blakstad's opener was Norway's first Women's EURO finals goal since a July 2013 meeting with Denmark, ending a four-match scoreless run at the tournament.
- Graham Hansen's penalty was Norway's 50th Women's EURO finals goal; only Germany and Sweden have reached that milestone;
- Graham Hansen has scored in her last four appearances against Northern Ireland, a total of nine goals.
- Aged 37 years 33 days, Julie Nelson became the oldest player to score at a Women's EURO.
- Norway have won each of their last six international matches against Northern Ireland.
- Norway had not scored more than one goal in any of their previous nine EURO group stage matches.
- Northern Ireland are competing at their first major tournament.
Norway: Pettersen; Sønstevold (Tuva Hansen 65), Mjelde (Bergsvand 81), Thorisdottir, Blakstad (Jøsendal 89); Eikeland (Sævik 65), Maanum (Bøe Risa 65), Graham Hansen, Engen, Reiten; Hegerberg
Northern Ireland: Burns; Burrows (Holloway 65), Nelson, McFadden, Vance; Furness (K McGuinness 74), McCarron, Caldwell (Callaghan 46); Magee, Wade (Wilson 80), Magill (C McGuinness 79)