Norway 0-0 Sweden: Scandinavian sides battle it out for a draw

As always, a close spectacle between two sides that tactically know each other very well.

Norway 0-0 Sweden: Scandinavian sides battle it out for a draw
Norway's Captain, Maren Mjelde, didn't have the busiest of nights in Norways defence in the game against Sweden.
Norway
0 0
Sweden
Norway: Ingrid Hjelmseth – Ingrid Moe Wold, Marita Skammelsrud Lund, Maren Mjelde, Marit Sandvei – Kristine Minde, Andrine Hegerberg, Ingvild Isaksen, Emilie Haavi (Lisa–Marie Karlseng Utland, min. 84) – Caroline Graham Hansen (Anja Sønstevold, min. 72), Ada Hegerberg (Elise Thorsnes, min. 88).
Sweden: Hilda Carlén – Jessica Samuelsson (Nathalie Björn, min. 86), Linda Sembrant, Magdalena Eriksson, Jonna Andersson – Elin Rubensson, Lisa Dahlkvist, Caroline Seger (Emilia Appelqvist, min. 62) – Sofia Jakobsson (Hanna Folkesson, min. 73), Kosovare Asllani (Mimmi Larsson, min. 73), Olivia Schough (Pauline Hammarlund, min. 62).

A managerless Norway welcomed their Scandinavian rivals from Sweden in a friendly at Sparebanken Sør Arena, where neiter side could be split.

For Sweden it was their second friendly in a matter of days, since they had the opportunity to write history when they met Iran on the 19th, in what was the Iranian side's first ever match on European soil. For Norway this was their first of two friendlies against Olympian finalists, seeing as they play Germany later this week.

Norway, whose former manager Roger Finjord, left after their successful European qualifier campaign has yet to find a replacement, and for this game Leif Gunnar Smerud was chosen to stand on the side-line. 

A first half with chances for both sides

From the get go it was obvious that these two teams know each other very well. They have played against each other numerous times, and their games always tend to be close and hard fought. This game was no different. The Norwegian side started off brightly, putting plenty of pressure on the Swedish defence and midfield, which meant Sweden's play wasn't free flowing, and they had a hard time finding each other with their passes.

The first two chances also fell to the Norwegians, with Ada Hegerberg and Caroline Graham Hansen both tryin to test Hilda Carlén in the Swedish goal. However, neither chance was of much concern. This was Carlén's fourth appereance in Sweden's goal, and the Piteå IF 'keeper looked good in Hedvig Lindahl's absence.

Sweden got more into the game, finding each other better, and this resulted in Jonna Andersson being set free down the left. The left-back from Linköpings FC has been in immense form in Damallsvenskan this year, leading the league in assists, and she almost got another when her pass found Olivia Schough, but the Eskilstuna player saw her shot parried away by Ingrid Hjelmseth in the Norwegian goal.

On the following corner Linda Sembrant connected with a ball that was woefully cleared by the Norwegian defence, but she failed to get any power behind her shot and it didn't trouble Hjelmseth. The game went back and forth after this, with both teams getting chances, but with netiher team looked threatening. Norway were the team in control, but in the latter stages of the first half, Sweden got the two biggest chances in the game.

Both of them fell to Caroline Seger. First the midfielder found herself wide open in the Norwegian area, but Hjelmseth was quick to react and saved the ball for a corner. Seger's second chance fell right before the half time whistle, when she rounded Hjelmseth, but the angle was too wide, and she couldn't get the ball on target. 

Neither nation able to break the deadlock

Second half picked up where the first ended, with Norway being in control, but with the Swedes not being that far behind. A few minutes into the game, Ada Hegerberg recieved the ball 16 metres out, but she fired her shot straight at the 'keeper. The first twenty minutes of the second half belonged to Norway, with Sweden struggling to find each other. However, the Swedes know how to defend and did that well.

It wasn't until some scrambling in the Swedish box around the 70th minute that Norway looked really dangerous. Carlén's initial clearence on a corner fell straight at Ingvild Isaksen who coouldn't connect with ball, but her little deflection was enough to send it over to Ada Hegerberg. However the star forward, uncharacteristically, couldn't get the ball on target.

Sweden had a few chances from distance, from Elin Rubensson and Lisa Dahlkvist, in the second half, but didn't have much more than that. Norway didn't have much more after the 70th minute either. The match ended with Ada Hegerberg having to be taken off, after a cash of heads with Magdalena Eriksson

It all ended 0-0 in front of 1434 spectators at Sparebanken Sør Arena, with Norway looking like the better side. Sweden will, largely, be pleased with their defensive display, but perhaps not with their inability to penetrate the Norwegian defence more.

Next up for Norway is a game against the Olympic Champions from Germany, and it is looking likely that Smerud will have to act as interim manager in that match as well. This was Sweden's last action of the year. A year that saw them qualify for the Euros and win Olympic Silver.