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Wales 0 Norway 2 (Hegerberg 68,80)
Wales' hopes of qualifying for the Euro 2017 Finals have come to an end after two superbly taken goals from star striker Ada Hegerberg gave Norway victory at Newport.
A well contested game saw a young Wales side give their all and more than match their highly ranked opponents during the first half but Norway stepped up their game after the interval and have moved themselves one step closer towards booking their place in the Netherlands next year.
Wales Head Coach Jayne Ludlow gave first starts to goalkeeper Claire Skinner and Gemma Evans in defence and both can be satisfied with their performances. The home side snapped into tackles early on, not allowing the Norwegians any time to settle on the ball. Norway did produce the first effort on goal, a deflected shot from Lene Mykjaland which Skinner held at full stretch.
A half chance came Wales' way when a miscued clearance from Ingrid Hjelmseth put Norway on the back foot, the ball eventually finding its way to Jessica Fishlock who tried her luck from distance but her shot was well over.
The first half saw few chances at either end but those which arrived came Wales' way. Evans whipped a free kick narrowly over the bar from 20 yards and another set piece, this time from Angharad James, was headed wide by Rhiannon Roberts.
Despite some neat touches and passes in midfield from Ingvild Stensland, Norway were struggling to make an impression against the Welsh defence. There was a scare for the home side as Hegerberg got in and tried to take the ball round Skinner but the keeper, along with the covering Sophie Ingle, did well to avert the danger.
The early stages of the second half were much the same but Norway were starting to move the ball around quicker and were looking more threatening. Wales were having to rely on the counter attack a lot more and one nearly brought an opportunity, James' pass being chased down by Kayleigh Green but Hjelmseth was quickly off her line to make a smothering save.
Norway hit back with a good passing move, working the ball out wide to Marit Sandvei, whose cross was headed wide by Elise Thorsnes. Kristine Minde then exchanged passes with Mykjaland before curling her shot just wide of the far post.
The match then turned on two pivotal moments in a three minute spell midway through the second half. First, a good run and pass from James found Green in the area where her well struck shot looked destined for the back of the net but was brilliantly tipped onto the bar by Hjelmseth.
Norway responded with another quick passing move, Emilie Haavi finding Sandvei on the left and her far post cross picked out Hegerberg who planted a firm header into the corner of the net to silence the home crowd.
The introduction of Haavi had proved to be a major difference with her pace and movement being a huge threat to the Wales defence, whilst allowing more space for the dangerous Hegerberg.
The game was put beyond doubt ten minutes from time, the Wales defence backing off to allow Hegerberg a chance to shoot and she duly punished them with a powerful strike which sailed past a helpless Skinner and into the top corner of the net for a goal of the highest quality.
Wales gave a debut late on to Kylie Nolan and another appearance for young striker Chloe Chivers to give some valuable experience for two future prospects. Norway's class eventually told on the day but Wales can be pleased with their efforts against a team expected to be amongst the major contenders in next year's Finals.
Wales: Claire Skinner, Rhiannon Roberts (sub Rachel Rowe 72mins), Loren Dykes, Angharad James, Gemma Evans, Sophie Ingle, Natasha Harding, Nadia Lawrence (sub Kylie Nolan 83mins), Kayleigh Green, Jessica Fishlock, Helen Ward (sub Chloe Chivers 80mins). Subs not used: Laura O'Sullivan, Nia Jones, Kylie Davies, Charlie Estcourt.
Norway: Ingrid Hjelmseth, Ingrid Moe Wold, Marita Skammelsrud Lund, Ingvild Stensland (sub Lisa-Marie Karlseng Utland 63mins), Marit Sandvei, Maren Mjelde, Lene Mykjaland, Elise Thorsnes (sub Emilie Haavi 63mins), Ada Hegerberg, Kristine Minde (sub Anja Sonstevold 84mins), Nora Holstad Berge. Subs not used: Kristine Nostmo, Andrine Tomter, Gunhild Herregarden.
(top) Claire Skinner gathers a cross under pressure from Ada Hegerberg
(middle) Ada Hegerberg (partially hidden) heads Norway in front
(bottom) Angharad James is closed down by Emilie Haavi
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