Sport Soccer

Saturday 17 March 2018

The game at a glance

Man of the match

Morten Gamst Pedersen

Made one, scored the other. There's not much more that you can ask of a winger and the Blackburn man provided a real spark for his team. His curling free-kick deceived Shay Given and was probably the match's only moment of true class, while his cross for Erik Huseklepp's winner was caught out the defence and the 'keeper. A handful for Stephen Kelly and Kevin Foley who marked him.

Talking point

Shay Given showed real signs that his spell on the sidelines is catching up with him as his sluggish response to Pedersen's free-kick displayed. His hesitance early in the second half almost allowed Norway a second, and he might have done more to cut out the cross for the winner. A departure from Manchester City is an imperative in January.

Referee watch

One of Finnish ref Kristinn Jakobsson's first calls was to correctly award Ireland's penalty, but penalising Stephen Kelly for handball when he slipped seemed harsh and led to Pedersen's goal.

Crowd watch

The lack of the customary attendance announcement was deafening as the weather matched the mood at the Aviva Stadium. The curse of the overpriced ticket struck once again as swathes of empty green seats dominated the landscape. The damp cheer that met Ireland's goal summed up a limp atmosphere that was a shadow of last Sunday's FAI Cup final and there were muted boos at full-time.

And finally . . .

After three years of stubborn tactics Trapattoni briefly dabbled with 4-5-1 by moving Shane Long on to the left wing during the first half. The experiment ended abruptly and the familiar 4-4-2 was restored.

Match stats

Yellow cards: Ireland 0, Norway 0.

Red cards: Ireland 0, Norway 0.

Shots on target: Ireland 4, Norway 7.

Shots off target: Ireland 9, Norway 5.

Corners: Ireland 6, Norway 2.

Possession: Ireland 54pc, Norway 46pc. ruaidhri o'connor

Irish Independent

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