Norway 3-0 Scotland: Football Girls start the year out on a high

Isabell Herlovsen's early brace more than enough for Norway in La Manga

Norway 3-0 Scotland: Football Girls start the year out on a high
Credit: Getty/Dennis Grombkowski
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Norway: Hjelmseth, Moe Wold, Thorisdottir, Gausdal, Minde, Reiten, Isaksen (Spord, min. 79), Mjelde (c), Graham Hansen (Haavi, min. 41), Maanum (Jensen, min. 64), Herlovsen (Leine, min. 64)
Scotland: Alexander (Fife, min. 76), Mitchell, Beattie, Howard, Brown (C. Murray, min. 83), Crichton (Small, min. 53), Love (c), Emslie (Smith, min. 83), Cuthbert (Weir, min. 54), Evans (Mclauchlan, min. 71), Ross
SCORE: 1-0, min. 12, Herlovsen. 2-0, min. 28, Herlovsen. 3-0, min. 53, Thorisdottir.
REFEREE: Marta Huerta (ESP)
INCIDENTS: International friendly between Norway and Scotland held at the La Manga Club, Spain.

Two first half goals for Norway had Scotland all but done by half time, Isabell Herlovsen’s early brace enough to undo any good work from the visitors before Maria Thorisdottir’s second half header left them with no way back in the opener to their year.

Herlovsen takes her chances

The game swung in Scotland’s favour in the opening seconds, the team in pink the one possessing the ball and driving forward, though Claire Emslie’s lack of precision denied them a gilt-edge chance to take an early lead.

The ball spent the first 10 minutes in the Norway half, though Ingrid Hjelmseth found herself without a job to do until Emslie’s hopeful low ball called her into action. It should have been a standard claim for the veteran ‘keeper but Hjelmseth required a second bite of the cherry to bring the sphere under control.

Rushed and un-composed when they’d seen the ball, Norway instantly found an opening as they countered. The Scotland defence left wanting as Isabell Herlovsen tucked the ball home for the 52nd time for her country, the goal against the run of play but enough to spark the Football Girls half into life.

Still hurried on the ball, Caroline Graham Hansen chanced her arm from range when a more nuanced approached failed to work, the ball harmlessly over Lee Alexander’s bar. Though Scotland still dictated the possession, their opposition were growing more and more into the match, frequently sparked in midfield bar Maren Mjelde.

Hansen and Herlovsen lurking in the danger zone but finding a distinct lack of poise and polish when they attempted to extend their lead. Frankie Brown alert to head off of the line at a corner before Herlovsen grabbed her second, a fine angled strike from a dubious onside position.

Scotland lose their focus

Down to ten with Hansen off of the pitch, Guro Reiten nearly added a third for the hosts, her free kick swung against Alexander’s gloves before the ‘keeper claimed with Maria Thorisdottir lurking.

The clock ran down to half-time, Scotland unseated and left struggling to get back into the match, their attacks still lacking bite. Gifted a chance in stoppage time after Emslie’s effort had been diverted just wide by Thorisdottir, the visitors threw bodies forward at the corner. Jennifer Beattie’s header enough to keep the ball in the box but both teams rushed, hacking at the ball before Hjelmseth dived on it to preserve her clean sheet.

Starting the second as they had the first, Scotland again looked to strike early, clean link-up play between Lisa Evans and Erin Cuthbert saw the former draw a save from Hjelmseth in the first seconds. Despite looking a little sharper, it didn’t take Scotland long to succumb to a third, Emilie Haavi’s pin-point corner landing plush on Thorisdottir’s head as the Chelsea woman nodded against the post and in.

Scotland’s response was a double-change to rebalance the side, a pacey attack saw Emslie cross the ball into the unoccupied box. Lacking understanding along the new-look front line, the ball bounced back away from danger before Jo Love left fly from 30-yards, the ball harmlessly off target. The Scots continued to find half and slight chances, a snappy effort from Caroline Weir just wide of Hjelmseth’s left upright half-way through the second half.

Friendly peters out

With little more than fifteen minutes to go, Scotland finally saw a solid chance when Emslie, who had been growing into the game, whipped a shot towards the near post, a diving save from Hjelmseth enough to keep it out. The resulting corning up to par with what the visitors had been producing all night, the ball fast turned over.

The ball moved back and forth across the pitch as the minutes counted down and both managers refreshed those on the pitch. Jemma Fife was thrown on by Shelley Kerr for the last fifteen minutes, the 22-year-old trusted not to concede a fourth on her debut, the Hibernian shot-stopper vigilant.

With both still struggling for the best, there was plenty for the neutral, the ball still pinging from one end of the pitch to the other as both looked to claim another January goal. Norway protecting a clean sheet and Scotland looking for a consolation for their troubles. Ingrid Marie Spord’s low effort slipped wide of the far post as the game rumbled into the last knockings, the Football Girls on top at the death.