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Live Commentary: Norway 0-2 Italy - as it happened

Relive Sports Mole's live text commentary of the European Championship qualifier between Norway and Italy at the Ullevaal Stadion.
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Italy have begun their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign with a 2-0 victory over Norway in Oslo.

Simone Zaza fired Italy ahead in the first half with a deflected strike from inside the box.

They doubled their lead just past the hour-mark when Leonardo Bonucci headed in from Manuel Pasqual's cross.

Find out how the action unfolded below.


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Good evening and thank you for joining Sports Mole for live text commentary of the European Championship qualifier between Norway and Italy at the Ullevaal Stadion.

It was just under two months ago that Germany lifted the World Cup in Brazil, but now the focus has shifted to qualifying for the European Championships in France in 2016. With 23 places up for grabs, there is no doubt that both teams playing this evening will fancy their chances of making it through to the tournament.



The undoubted favourites in Group H are an Italy side who reached the final in Euro 2012. They had a miserable summer at the World Cup after failing to make it out of their group, which has resulted in Antonio Conte replacing Cesare Prandelli as manager. The new boss has made plenty of changes to his team, as they aim to reach a sixth-successive European Championships.

Italy's opponents this evening are a Norway side who have only qualified for the European Championships once in their history. That was fourteen years ago, in what was the last time they reached a major tournament. They will be hoping to get off to a good start at home, with winnable fixtures against Malta and Bulgaria to come next month.

With just under 20 minutes left until kick off the two teams have been announced, so let's take a look at who will be lining up in Oslo this evening.

NORWAY XI: Nyland, Elabdellaoui, Nordtveit, Forren, Flo, Skjelbred, Johansen, Jenssen, King, Nielsen, Daehli

ITALY XI: Buffon, Ranocchia, Bonucci, Astori, Darmian, De Rossi, Giaccherini, Florenzi, De Sciglio, Zaza, Immobile

NORWAY SUBS: Jarstein, Hansen, Tettey, Kamara, T Elyounoussi, Semb Berge, Pedersen, Konradsen, Danielsen, Samuelsen, Hagen

ITALY SUBS: Sirigu, Perin, Ogbonna, Candreva, Maggio, Pasqual, Verratti, Poli, Parolo, Destro, El Shaarawy, Giovinco, Quagliarella

TEAM NEWS: The visitors are without the suspended Mario Balotelli, so Ciro Immobile and Simone Zaza get another chance to impress in attack. Alessandro Florenzi comes into the midfield with Claudio Marchisio ruled out, while Gianluigi Buffon is back in the team after missing last week's friendly against the Netherlands.

As for the hosts, they have made a couple of changes to the team that were beaten by England in their last outing. Havard Nielsen and Per Egil Flo both come into the side in place of Tarik Elyounoussi and Martin Linnes.

PREDICTION: Italy were impressive during their win against the Netherlands in what was Conte's first game in charge. He will be hoping that his team can continue that form against a Norway side who have won just one of their last 12 internationals. I think the visitors should have far too much quality and I am going to go for a 2-0 win for the Azzurri this evening.

We have just heard the anthems for each country and the game is now just a couple of minutes from getting started.

KICKOFF! We are underway at the Ullevaal Stadion!

CHANCE! The visitors almost open the scoring early on as Darmian is picked out with a fine ball over the top from De Rossi and he plays a first time pass across the middle looking for Zaza, but it is just behind the striker and Norway manage to get the danger clear.

It's Norway's turn to threaten as Nordtveit goes for goal from just outside the box, but his effort is poor and doesn't come close to troubling Buffon.

We have already seen some confident passages of play from the home side, who have made a decent start to the match. It's clear from the start that they aren't going to make things easy for Italy and they are quickly closing their opponents down.

Italy have begun to see a lot more of the possession and they are starting to spread the ball out wide in search of the likes of Darmian. It seems that De Rossi will be playing the Pirlo role this evening as he looks to pick the ball up in a deeper role and set up his side's attacks.

Florenzi has a glimpse of the goal when Norway fail to clear a corner and the ball drops to him on the edge of the box. The Roma midfielder attempts a strike on goal, but he scuffs his effort into the ground and the keeper is able to make a comfortable save.

GOAL! Norway 0-1 Italy (Simone Zaza)

Italy take the lead and it's a first international goal for Zaza! The striker is fed the ball inside the box and he works himself some space to shoot, before firing in a strike that takes a big deflection off Nordtveit and beats the keeper at his near post.

Norway will be disappointed to have conceded in the manner that they did after a good start to the match. Goalkeeper Nyland will also feel that he shouldn't have been beaten at his front post, but the deflection made it difficult for him.

CHANCE! The hosts have responded well to going behind and King comes close when he is slipped through by Skjelbred, but his effort from a tight angle goes over the bar.

That goal has just allowed Italy to sit back and get a firm grip on this match. They are looking comfortable on the ball and with Immobile and Zaza willing runners, they are finding plenty of space in their opponents' half when they break forward.

Norway cause a moment of panic in the Italian box after Jenssen whips a free kick into the box. The ball is headed up into the air by King, but none of his teammates can latch onto the loose ball at the back post, with the defence managing to scramble the ball clear.

CHANCE! King has looked Norway's best threat this evening and he works himself some space just outside the box, before curling in a strike that deflects just wide of the post.

CHANCE! Italy haven't put their opponents under an extreme amount of pressure after taking the lead, but they do look dangerous on the break. This time is is Giaccherini who leads the charge forward and from the edge of the box he powers in a strike that Nyland has to beat away.

Zaza really has taken his chance this evening, after coming in for the suspended Balotelli. He has worked tirelessly to shut down the Norwegian defence and is making some fine runs down the channels. His goal will also have proved to Conte that he can perform at this level.

There is plenty of space for Italy to exploit on the left, which is where most of their chances are coming from. They have a decent opening when De Sciglio is freed, but his ball across the box is unable to find any of his teammates.

YELLOW CARD! Florenzi is the first player to pick up a booking this evening for a poor foul on Nielsen.

The visitors are ending the half strongly as they look to take their lead into the break. Their opponents are finding it hard to get behind their defence, which has ooked very solid this evening.

CHANCE! Giaccherini has a decent chance to double his side's lead on the stroke of half time when he is picked out on the edge of the box, but he can only place his half-volley wide of the target.

HALF-TIME: Norway 0-1 Italy

No stoppage time is needed at the end of the first half and Italy have the lead in Oslo. A debut international goal from Simone Zaza separates the sides, in a half that they have dominated.

Italy have seen plenty of the ball, as shown by the 53% of the possession they had over the first 45 minutes. They have also had six attempts on goal with three of those finding the target. In comparison Norway have had four shots on goal, but they have failed to test Buffon.



One man who enjoyed a great half was Zaza. The 23-year-old is making his second appearance for the national side and will have been overjoyed by grabbing his first goal. He currently plays for Sassuolo, who he joined permanently in the summer following a successful season on loan from Juventus.

In the other Group H matches this evening, Bulgaria have claimed a 2-1 win over Azerbaijan, while Croatia are currently being held to a goalless draw at home to Malta. However, the visitors are down to 10 men after Steve Borg's red card.

The players are making their way back out onto the pitch and the second half should be kicking off in just a few moments.

Italy take the kick off and get the match back underway.

Conte's men have begun the second half in control and their opponents are struggling to get on the ball. We haven't seen any shots on goal as yet, which will be something that Norway will be desperate to improve upon.

SUBSTITUTION: Norway make the first change of the evening, as Elyounoussi comes on in place of Nielsen.

Over the past couple of minutes the hosts have started to see more of the ball and are beginning to edge further up the pitch. They are still finding it hard to break down a stubborn Italian backline, with not too much support in the attack to help King.

Norway have been getting into some decent attacking positions, but their final ball has not been good enough. The latest example comes when it is fed out wide to Flo on the left, but with two players to find in the box, his cross is over hit and goes straight out of play.

SUBSTITUTION: Italy make a change, with Pasqual coming on for Darmian.

GOAL! Norway 0-2 Italy (Leonardo Bonucci)

The visitors have doubled their lead and you suspect that the three points are almost in the bag. Substitute Pasqual makes an immediate impact, as he is played the ball short from a corner and whips a cross towards the back post where Bonucci arrives to power a header into the net. It was far too simple and Norway's manager will be furious that his team allowed their opponents so much time and space.

Italy are starting to enjoy themselves now and Immobile slides in De Sciglio down the right. The defender tries to pick out a teammate with a ball across the middle, but the keeper shows safe hands to collect his cross.

YELLOW CARD! It's another booking for the visitors, as Astori goes into the book for a strong challenge on Daehli.

Norway have looked poor in front of goal and Elyounoussi's latest effort sums up their evening. He receives the ball in space around 25 yards out from goal, but his strike is poor and goes well over Buffon's goal.

The formation that Italy are playing this evening has given plenty of license for De Sciglio to get forward at will down the right. The Milan man has taken full advantage and on his latest venture forward, he cuts inside, before working some space and firing an effort wide of the far post.

SUBSTITUTION: Norway make their second change of the match, as Tettey comes on to replace Jenssen.

Norway finally put the visitors under some real pressure, as Daehli works some space to whip in a cross from the right. There are plenty of men forward for once, but his delivery is just slightly too high and is cleared at the back post.

SUBSTITUTION: Norway make their third and final change, with Pedersen coming on for Skjelbred.

OFF THE BAR! Zaza comes within inches of grabbing his second of the night! The striker races through on goal after latching onto a brilliant flick from Immobile. He then charges into the box, before lashing a fierce strike against the bar. The ball then comes out to Florenzi, but he sees his header saved by Nyland.

OFF THE LINE! Zaza could have had a hat-trick this evening! He is close to scoring again as Norway lose the ball in the midfield allowing him the chance to run at the defence. He shows great skill to beat Nordtveit, before chipping the ball over the keeper, but his attempt is then cleared off the line by Forren.

YELLOW CARD! Nordtveit hasn't enjoyed the best of nights and he has now picked up a booking for a foul on Immobile.

SUBSTITUTION: There will be no more chances for Zaza to add to his goal, as Destro comes on for the closing minutes.

SUBSTITUTION: Conte makes his final change of the evening, with Poli coming on for Florenzi.

It's a very comfortable end to the match for Italy who look like they could add a third goal at any moment if they wanted to. They have been solid at the back and took their chances at the vital moments. It looks like Balotelli and some of the other established players that are missing will have to work hard to regain their places.

YELLOW CARD! Norway are cutting a very frustrated team and Forren gets a deserved card for a poor foul on Immobile.

We are going to have three minutes of stoppage time.

FULL-TIME: Norway 0-2 Italy

The referee brings the game to an end, with Italy starting their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign with a comfortable win this evening. Norway hardly posed a threat and failed to find the target with a single shot on goal.

It was all far too easy for Italy, who have started the Conte era with two wins out of two. They are back in action next month, with two very winnable looking matches against Group H rivals Azerbaijan and Malta.



That's just about all we have time for this evening. Thank you for joining us for coverage of tonight's match and stick around for reaction and news from all of this week's qualifiers. Until next time, goodbye!

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Mario Balotelli, Andrea Pirlo and Claudio Marchisio of Italy look on during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match against Costa Rica on June 20, 2014
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