Iceland off of the mark in lightening fashion
Needing little more than four minutes to open the scoring, Iceland made their early strength count, Sandra Maria Jessen determined to come away with the ball on the edge of the box. A touch and turn here saw the young attacker through, opting to lay the ball off to Fanndís Friðriksdóttir rather than shooting herself her teammate made no mistake. With the ball slipped just inside of the near post, Cecilie Fiskerstrand’s handling let her down as she let the ball slip through her fingertips and into the back of the net.
A goal up and still the team on top, Iceland continued to move the ball around in the attacking half, Norway not able to get near enough to mount an attack of their own. Fiskerstrand happy to see Friðriksdóttir’s second effort curl through the air and stop dead in her grasp. Calming significantly, the home team began to find each other, Synne Jensen’s shot on the turn wasteful as it arced over Sandra Sigurðardóttir’s goal. A corner that the Iceland failed to fully clear saw Sigurðardóttir called into action for the first time, a calm hand on Guro Reiten’s vicious snap shot enough to turn the goal-bound effort over.
The game opened up, the Norwegians boasting the slight advantage but the back and forth continued, the best example 26 minutes in when an uninspired free kick for the hosts nearly saw Iceland double the advantage. The ball sent long by Sigurðardóttir for the attackers to run at, Friðriksdóttir hungry to keep possession and stride forward with the ball, her shot parried by Fiskerstrand. With Maria Thorisdottir still out of position, Kristine Minde covered the vacant space, her intervention to put the lose ball out all to stop Jessen from making it two.
All square just before the break
When Norway finally found a good bit of build-up they inevitably capitalised, Ingrid Marie Spoord’s ball over the top enough for Frida Maanum to reach, nibbling it away from the waiting Icelandic midfield. A neat touch saw the young Linköping woman cut forward, creating more space as she bypassed another in blue, the ball finally landing on Jensen’s toe via a square ball from Ingrid Moe Wold. The back of the net left to ripple as Jensen made contact mid-fall, Sigurðardóttir unable to prevent the equaliser. The goal enough to really rev the Football Girls up and see them almost take the lead moments later when Reiten – played in by Maren Mjelde – had both the time and space to get her shot away. The low effort considerably wide of the far post as the seconds ticked down to half time, the last action a poor corner from the hosts.
It didn’t take Norway long to find the first chance after the break, Reiten’s direct free kick swung over the wall for Sigurðardóttir to touch over the bar, denying the LSK woman with another fine save.
The game opened itself back up, the two Nordic nations battling for dominance in midfield, unable to retain possession, neither afraid to shy from physicality. The third goal arriving just on the hour and borne of error as the defence failed to clear, an air-shot from a centre back giving Jensen all the encouragement she needed, her volley around her marker and into the net.
Despite the three goals the game still lacked flow, the time of year undoubtedly playing its part as the two got stuck into each other, the polish diminishing more and more as the match wore on. The constant interruptions for substitutions doing nothing to help the match find a comfortable rhythm.
With both squads thoroughly refreshed, Iceland used their fresher legs to run at the home defence, a lack of poise undoing them as they rushed against the calmer back-line. The match almost put to bed five minutes from time by Isabell Herlovsen who found her own problems unlocking her opposition before the ball returned to the other end of the pitch. Fresh off the bench, Hlín Eiríksdóttir did her best to carve into the defence in her late cameo, little time for her as she found herself crowded out, left alone by her teammates.
The match ending uncomfortably for Norway as the game became more stretched into stoppage time, both desperate for another goal.