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Defeat leaves hopes in balance
 Women's Football Wales International News - 30 Oct 2020
Wales International News - Defeat leaves hopes in balance - 30 Oct 2020 - Women's Football NewsWales 0 Norway 1
Wales' hopes of qualifying for Euro 2021 now hang in the balance after suffering a 1-0 defeat at home to the group winners, Norway.
It was a brave performance from Jayne Ludlow's side, who frustrated Norway for an hour and came close to equalising after falling behind but in the end, Frida Maanum's goal was enough to separate the two sides.
During the first 45 minutes, Ludlow's game plan to frustrate the visiting team worked well, with the Wales squad organised and well-drilled despite Norway enjoying most of the possession. Jessica Fishlock had a chance in the opening five minutes, spotting space at the edge of the box and turned away from the Norway defence to strike just wide of the top left hand corner.
The majority of the chances however came from the visiting team, with Laura O'Sullivan coming up trumps with a couple of crucial saves. Elise Thorsnes proved threatening in the box but the Wales keeper handled her with ease.
With no changes from either teams after half time, it started out much of the same with Norway piling on the pressure again. Eventually they had their breakthrough after a mistake from Kayleigh Green in midfield and miscommunication between Fishlock and Elise Hughes resulted in a free strike for Maanum into the bottom left corner.
With Ludlow's side needing a point to solidify their second place standing in the group and an elusive play-off spot, it was necessary to change tactics and take the game to Norway.
Wales' main chance came from a corner, with Angharad James crossing to Fishlock before striking it wide. They continued to pile on the pressure, with James forcing Fiskerstrand into action after stealing possession in midfield, but yet again the keeper denied the Welsh attack. It was sadly too little too late for Ludlow's squad, with victory to Norway securing their qualification at the Cardiff City Stadium.
The hope of qualifying for Euro 2021 is now out of Wales' hands and hangs in the balance. With one game left for Ludlow's side in this qualifying campaign against Belarus at home, they will need to win their final match and hope that Northern Ireland drop points against Belarus to secure the second place and a spot in the play-offs.
Wales: Laura O'Sullivan, Sophie Ingle, Rhiannon Roberts, Helen Ward (sub Lily Woodham 79mins), Angharad James, Kayleigh Green (sub Georgia Walters 76mins), Jessica Fishlock, Natasha Harding, Rachel Rowe, Hayley Ladd, Elise Hughes (sub Gemma Evans 72mins). Subs not used: Olivia Clark, Poppy Soper, Maria Francis-Jones, Gemma Evans, Josie Green, Charlie Estcourt, Nadia Lawrence, Kylie Nolan, Lily Woodham, Carrie Jones, Chloe Williams.
Norway: Cecilie Fiskerstrand, Ingrid Wold, Maria Thorisdottir, Maren Mjelde, Ingrid Syrstad Engen, Elise Thorsnes (sub Lisa-Marie Utland 74mins), Caroline Graham Hansen, Guro Reiten (sub Amalie Eikeland 65mins), Frida Maanum, Karina Sævik (sub Vilde Bøe Risa 86mins), Julie Blakstad. Subs not used: Oda Bogstad, Ida Norstrøm, Tuva Hansen, Vilde Hasund, Thea Bjelde, Elisabeth Terland, Kristine Minde, Synne Jensen, Emilie Haavi.

Photo - Rhiannon Roberts hurdles a challenge from Amalie Eikeland (Will Cheshire).

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