MX23RW : Tuesday, September 28 23:18:37| >> :120:5501:5501:
Mar 26, 2017 at 7.45pm UK at Windsor Park
N. IrelandNorthern Ireland
Ward (2'), Washington (33')
FT(HT: 2-0)

Live Commentary: Northern Ireland 2-0 Norway - as it happened

Relive Sports Mole's live coverage of Northern Ireland's 2-0 victory over Norway in their World Cup qualifying fixture.

Northern Ireland have recorded their first win over Norway in 42 years with a 2-0 victory in their World Cup qualifying fixture at Windsor Park.

Jamie Ward gave the home side the lead with less than two minutes on the clock before Conor Washington added a second before the break.

Alexander Soderlund struck the bar for the visitors, but they were outfought by Michael O'Neill's side as they moved two points clear in second place.

Read below to see how the action unfolded in Belfast.

Hello, and welcome to Sports Mole's live coverage of the World Cup qualifying fixture between Northern Ireland and Norway.

We may only be in March but crucial World Cup qualifying fixtures are happening all of the time and this one at Windsor Park is one of them. With Germany likely to run away with Group C, it's effectively a race for second spot and as it stands, Northern Ireland hold on to that position. However, just four points separates the runners-up from fifth and every point is going to be important from now until October.

Talking of Germany, they have already been in action with Joachim Low's side running out 4-1 winners away in Azerbaijan. At one stage, the underdogs have leveled things up against the world champions but goals from Andre Schurrle, Thomas Muller and Mario Gomez have ensured that Germany continue their unbeaten run since reaching the last four of Euro 2016. They now sit six points clear at the top of Group C. Azerbaijan may have lost this evening, but they became the first side to score past Germany in just under nine months. It's something England couldn't do earlier this week...

RESULT! England failed to reach the heights of their performance against Germany in Dortmund, but they have ran out 2-0 victors against Lithuania. Gareth Southgate's team were always comfortable but it was a relatively lacklustre display. Click here for our on-the-whistle report.

Anyway, I am assuming that you want some team news. That's coming right up.

NORTHERN IRELAND XI: McGovern, McLaughlin, McAuley, Cathcart, Evans, Brunt, Norwood, Davis, Dallas, Ward, Washington

NORWAY XI: Jarstein, Elabdellaoui, Hovland, Valsvik, Skjelvik, M.Elyounoussi, Nordtveit, Johansen, T.Elyounoussi, Soderlund, King

Michael O'Neill had a number of injury concerns before this fixture and he has to make do without the services of Aaron Hughes, Corry Evans and Josh Magennis. There's also no place in the starting lineup for Kyle Lafferty. It means that Conor Washington is in from the start, with Craig Cathcart taking his place in defence.

Norway don't boast the most experienced of squads but regular viewers of the Premier League will be familiar with a few names. They are captained by Stefan Johnason - the former Celtic midfielder who now plays for Fulham - while Bournemouth's Josh King features in attack. West Ham United's Havard Nordtveit and Hull City's Omar Elabdellaoui also take their place in the starting lineup. Goalkeeper Rune Jarstein is their most experienced player on the international stage, with the 32-year-old winning his 45th cap.

RESULT! O'Neill would have considered this a formality but Czech Republic have gone and done the business in San Marino, claiming a 6-0 victory against the minnows. It means that Northern Ireland are now third, one point adrift of their main rivals for second place. Northern Ireland do possess a better goal difference, however, so a point would be enough to see them return to the runners-up place.

HEAD TO HEAD! Tonight's contest represents the eighth time in which these two teams have met on the international stage, with Norway winning six of the previous fixtures. Northern Ireland's one and only victory came in November 1975! The most recent match came in February 2012, with Norway winning 3-0 away from home. O'Neill and co will be hoping that they don't repeat that tonight!

The Norway team features some recognisable names but we should not forget their last two qualifying results and performances. They were just 13 minutes away from drawing with San Marino in Oslo - which would probably have been the most embarrassing result in their history - while in November, they lost 2-1 in the Czech Republic. That was a competitive match but it means that they enter this contest with their only points coming against San Marino. The stakes are high for Northern Ireland, but this is a potentially-pivotal game for Norway too.

As for Northern Ireland, their last two home qualifiers have ended in 4-0 victories. Norway are a step up from Azerbaijan and San Marino but they will undoubtedly be high in belief in front of their own supporters. They probably won't benefit from the absence of Lafferty, but Conor Washington will be eager to make the most of his chance, while there are other match-winners in the team.

PREDICTION! We expect there to be tension in the air tonight and that is going to make for a nervy game. However, it will be up to Northern Ireland to set the tempo and push men forward and although we fancy Norway to score at some point, we are backing the home team to come through with a 2-1 win.

The two teams have made their way out in Belfast. It's time for the national anthems before we are hopefully treated to an entertaining tussle between sides whose appearances at major tournaments are pretty rare. I will reiterate - this is a big match.

Norway get us underway.

GOAL! Northern Ireland 1-0 Norway (Ward)

Wow! What a start for Northern Ireland and what a strike from Ward! The forward is given the chance to get the ball onto his right foot and he obliges by curling a shot into the far corner from around 16 yards out. Windsor Park is rocking!

Either side of the goal, Norway have had the ball in the box thanks to Nordtveit's long throw but so far so good from the Northern Ireland backline.

It has to be said, Norway have started relatively brightly, despite conceding that early goal. Lars Lagerback seems to have lifted the squad after their recent few results.

We've had a lengthy stoppage for McAuley, who landed very heavily after a coming together with Soderlund. It appeared at one stage that he may struggle to continue but he's back on his feet. He's been excellent for West Bromwich Albion this season.

Despite the absence of Lafferty, Northern Ireland are still playing with a direct style. Ward and Washington are not going to win many headers but they are causing all kinds of problems for the visitors. They aren't enjoying the pressure they are being put under.

SHOT! It's worth a go, but it was extremely unlikely that Davis was going to score from here. The ball fell invitingly to him around 25 yards out, but his left-foot half-volley went high over the crossbar.

We are through 20 minutes at Windsor Park and although we have been short of opportunities on goal, this is still a good match being played at a decent pace. O'Neill will be delighted with this start having made five changes to his starting lineup.

SHOT! Norway's first shot on target comes from the in-form King, who attempts to find the far top corner with the outside of his boot. It's a good attempt but McGovern has little problem with making the save.

WOODWORK! Soderlund has scored just once in 26 games for his country and he hasn't done great for Saint-Etienne this season. However, he's never scored an absolute screamer in this game, with his left-foot volley striking the crossbar and bouncing clear.

McAuley has picked up another injury - this time to his ankle - but he seems intent on trying to continue. I'm not too sure Tony Pulis will agree with that decision! We are a third of the way through this match now and Norway are starting to get on top.

GOAL! Northern Ireland 2-0 Norway (Washington)

Just as Norway were getting on top, Northern Ireland double their lead! It's another fine goal, too, with Davis threading a through-ball into the path of Washington and he did the rest by slotting his shot through the legs of Jarstein. This is brilliant from O'Neill's men!

Norway have gotten back onto the front foot since conceding a second but you have to wonder whether the damage has already been done? Another Northern Ireland goal would surely wrap this game up. Norway could do with halving the deficit before the break.

It looks like McAuley has shaken off the knock which was hampering him before the second goal. He's obviously an influential figure at the back so it's a boost for O'Neill.

BOOKING! Dallas has gone into the book for what the referee has deemed a two-footed tackle. That's probably true to some extent but it wasn't aggressive.

BOOKING! Nordtveit now goes into the book for Norway for taking the free kick too quickly! It's all a bit over the top from the referee.

There will be two minutes of added-on time.

HALF TIME: Northern Ireland 2-0 Norway

The half-time whistle goes at Windsor Park and Northern Ireland have managed to take a 2-0 lead into the break. So far, it's been a brilliant performance from Michael O'Neill's side and it's going to take some effort from Norway to get back into this. Northern Ireland are 45 minutes from regaining second place in Group C.

The two teams are making their way back out. Can Northern Ireland get the job done? We will find out over the next 45 minutes or so...

Northern Ireland get us back underway.

Norway are straight onto the offensive and Northern Ireland have to remain strong inside the penalty area to prevent a couple of players from getting a shot on goal. That should ensure that there is no complacency in the home side's ranks.

Since that early scare, it's been all Northern Ireland and they nearly force Johansen into scoring an own goal. He's very fortunate. From the resulting corner, a Northern Ireland player almost gets on the end of the set piece before Norway deal with the danger.

SUBSTITUTION! It's time for a Norway change with Mats Moller Daehli coming on for Tarik Elyounoussi.

Norway are trying their best to put something together in the final third but Northern Ireland are giving them nothing. It's been a real professional performance so far. Chances have been few and far between over the last 10 minutes.

Northern Ireland are showing absolutely no intention of settling for this result. They want more. Ward and Washington have been fantastic, as has Dallas and McLaughlin. It won't be long before O'Neill makes his first change but don't be surprised to see the home side net a third.

SUBSTITUTION! A second alteration for Norway, with Hull City's Adama Diomande coming on for Soderlund.

I won't speak too soon but Cathcart, McAuley and Evans are heading everything away for Northern Ireland. They aren't being troubled whatsoever. A reminder - Northern Ireland go two points clear in second if they win this match.

As Norway look to push players forward, more and more space is being created in their own half and Northern Ireland look ready to exploit it. Their front two haven't stopped running all night. Just 20 minutes to go in Belfast.

SHOT! That could have gone anywhere. Washington gets his shot away on the edge of the area but it's deflected wide of the target. Nothing came from the resulting corner.

CHANCE! Better from Norway. The ball is crossed into the middle where Diomande is waiting, but the striker's header from around 14 yards is straight at McGovern.

SUBSTITUTION! Third and final change for Norway as Sander Berge comes on for his international debut. He replaces Johansen.

SHOT! Norway win a free kick 35 yards from goal and Nordtveit decides to take his chances and shoot. It's some effort, with his low shot going under the wall and towards the bottom corner, but McGovern makes an outstanding save down to his right.

SUBSTITUTION! O'Neill finally makes a change with Ward leaving to a standing ovation to be replaced by Niall McGinn.

We are well into the final 10 minutes now. Northern Ireland have decided to drop deeper in an attempt to see this match out. They are tiring a little as well. They've put in a big shift.

SHOT! Jarstein comes out of his goal to deal with a long ball but his header falls straight to McGinn, who attempts a volley from distance. Unfortunately, it's straight at the goalkeeper.

SUBSTITUTION! It's Kyle Lafferty time. He has replaced Washington in attack.

SUBSTITUTION! Another change for Northern Ireland. Matthew Lund is coming on for Dallas. It's a competitive debut for the Rochdale player.

There will be three minutes of added-on time.

FULL TIME: Northern Ireland 2-0 Norway

The full-time whistle goes in Belfast and Northern Ireland have comfortably held on to secure a 2-0 victory at Windsor Park. The first-half goals from Ward and Washington proved enough as Michael O'Neill's men recorded their third win from five games in Group C. They now sit two points above the Czech Republic.

That will be all from Sports Mole for this match. Thank you for joining us this evening and we hope to see you again soon. Goodbye for now.

ID:294634: cacheID:294634:1false2false3false:QQ:: from db desktop :LenBod:restore:24556:
Restore Data
Share this article now:
Did you know...?
Michael O'Neill during the Euro 2016 Group C match between Ukraine and Northern Ireland on July 16, 2016
Read Next:
Ward, Dallas pull out of NI squad

rhs 2.0
Todays Game Header Right
2Manchester CityMan City64111211113
4Manchester UnitedMan Utd6411135813
6Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton641185313
7West Ham UnitedWest Ham6321138511
8Aston Villa631297210
11Tottenham HotspurSpurs630349-59
13Leicester CityLeicester6213710-37
14Wolverhampton WanderersWolves620435-26
15Crystal Palace613269-36
17Newcastle UnitedNewcastle6033714-73
18Leeds UnitedLeeds6033614-83
20Norwich CityNorwich6006216-140

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Transfer Talk Daily
Match previews - twice weekly
Morning Briefing (7am UTC)
Ultra close-up image of Kevin De Bruyne [NOT FOR USE IN ARTICLES]Get the latest transfer news, match previews and news direct to your inbox!