A miserable opening quarter cost Norway dearly in the 1-4 loss away to Portugal. Only thin theory keeps alive the Norwegian dream of playing in next year’s U21 European Championships.
Before Friday’s match, national team coach Leif Gunnar Smerud had emphasized avoiding a new nightmare start against Portugal. Last autumn, Norway was below 0-2 after 20 minutes when the teams met in Drammen. The Norwegian players had obviously not learned much from that lesson.
In the evening heat in Estoril, Wolverhampton striker Pedro Neto spent just over a quarter of an hour scoring twice. Julian Faye Lund had no chance on the first goal, while goalkeeper substitute Kristoffer Klaesson had to watch the ball go into the net via his gloves.
Klaesson had to replace Lund just a few minutes after Portugal’s first goal.
Nice scoring by Norway
There was a big class difference between the teams in the first 20 minutes. Defensively, Norway did not keep up with the Portuguese onslaught, but gradually it improved.
After a few sporadic attack attempts, the Netherlands pro Jørgen Strand Larsen reduced after a great one-man performance.
The striker rapped the ball from an inattentive Portugal goalkeeper and placed it in the net via the home team’s stopper Diogo Leite.
Norway excelled a bit in the hunt for equalization. After a short tussle with the defender, Strand Larsen finally tucked the ball home.
Ten minutes later came the goal that shattered the Norwegian points hope. Once again it was a Wolverhampton player who scored, but this time it came after a huge loss by Klaesson. Kneeling, the Vålerenga goalkeeper missed the finish to Vitinha from eleven meters.
Just won three
At the end, Portugal increased to 4-1 after brilliant play. Dany Mota hammered the leather ball into the net on a 45-degree pass from Daniel Braganca.
Norway has only won three of eight group matches in the qualification for the U21 European Championships. Ten points gives a hopeless starting point ahead of the last two settlements against Belarus (home) and Gibraltar (away). Portugal is five points ahead with two fewer games played than the Norwegian team.
The Netherlands tops the group with a full pot with its 21 points after seven games.