World Cup Qualifying - European - Group C
Northern Ireland2Norway0

World Cup 2018: Northern Ireland 2-0 Norway

Jamie Ward fires in Northern Ireland's early goal against Norway
Jamie Ward's second-minute goal gave Northern Ireland the perfect start against Norway

Northern Ireland remain on course for a World Cup play-off spot thanks to an impressive qualifier win over Norway.

Jamie Ward's strike put the hosts in front inside two minutes and Steven Davis set up Conor Washington to fire in the second on 33 at Windsor Park.

Alexander Soderlund hit the crossbar in the first half but it was a disappointing start to Lars Lagerback's managerial reign with the Norwegians.

Northern Ireland are two points clear of third-placed Czech Republic.

World champions Germany beat Azerbaijan 4-1 in Baku on Sunday to remain five points ahead of Michael O'Neill's side in Group C.

The Czechs earned a 6-0 win over bottom-placed San Marino on Sunday, with Azerbaijan a further point back and the Norwegians surely out of contention 12 off the pace following their defeat at Windsor Park.

Ward's early strike stuns Norwegians

Ward's strike gave Northern Ireland the perfect start as the Nottingham Forest striker justified his return to the starting line-up by arrowing in his shot from 20 yards.

It set the tone for a dominant first-half display from O'Neill's team although Norway provided a rare threat when Soderlund's dipping volley crashed off the woodwork.

The lead was doubled on 33 minutes with a pinpoint through-ball from skipper Davis sending Washington clear and the striker slotted in from 10 yards.

Norway improved after the interval but they struggled to carve out clear-cut openings.

Northern Ireland keeper Michael McGovern did make a good save to keep out a long-range Havard Nordtveit free-kick but it was mostly huff and puff stuff from the visitors.

Conor Washington celebrates after netting his third international goal in the 32nd minute
Michael O'Neill's decision to start QPR striker Conor Washington paid off handsomely

Michael the magician

Michael O'Neill's first game in charge of Northern Ireland was a 3-0 defeat by Norway in February 2012. How times have changed.

Fresh from guiding his team to the Euro 2016 finals, he has fashioned a superbly drilled unit boasting relentless energy and confidence.

O'Neill made four changes from the 4-0 win over Azerbaijan in November, with a new strikeforce of Ward and Queen's Park Rangers forward Washington while Craig Cathcart's return saw a switch to a back three.

Despite a new system and forward line there was a fluency in Northern Ireland's play and O'Neill has instilled a work ethic in the players exhibited by constant pressing of the opposition.

Northern Ireland fans will hope their manager will remain at the helm and take them to the finals in 2018, but O'Neill is increasingly catching the eye of ambitious clubs in England and Scotland.

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Skipper Steven Davis praises Northern Ireland's game management in win over Norway

Man of the match - Steven Davis

Another majestic performance from the Northern Ireland skipper, who makes the game look so simple as the heartbeat of the team.

His through-ball to Washington for the second goal was a highlight in a display of calmness and class.

The 32-year-old Southampton midfielder was always available, always in the right place and led by example.

What's next?

Northern Ireland are next in qualifier action in Azerbaijan on 10 June.

O'Neill's side have a home friendly against New Zealand eight days prior to the Baku contest.

Line-ups

Northern Ireland

  • 1McGovern
  • 20Cathcart
  • 4McAuley
  • 5Evans
  • 16Norwood
  • 2McLaughlin
  • 8Davis
  • 11Brunt
  • 14DallasBooked at 43minsSubstituted forLundat 88'minutes
  • 19WardSubstituted forMcGinnat 80'minutes
  • 9WashingtonSubstituted forLaffertyat 85'minutes

Substitutes

  • 3Lafferty
  • 6Hodson
  • 7McGinn
  • 10Lafferty
  • 12Mannus
  • 15Boyce
  • 17Lund
  • 18Paton
  • 21McLaughlin
  • 22Flanagan
  • 23Carroll

Norway

  • 1Jarstein
  • 14Elabdellaoui
  • 3Hovland
  • 5Valsvik
  • 2Skjelvik
  • 6NordtveitBooked at 44mins
  • 8JohansenSubstituted forBergeat 75'minutes
  • 18Elyounoussi
  • 7King
  • 11ElyounoussiSubstituted forMøller Dæhliat 53'minutes
  • 9SøderlundSubstituted forDiomandeat 63'minutes

Substitutes

  • 4Reginiussen
  • 10Konradsen
  • 12Nyland
  • 13Berge
  • 15Møller Dæhli
  • 16Svensson
  • 17Hedenstad
  • 19Berisha
  • 20Diomande
  • 21Semb Berge
  • 22Hansen
  • 23Berget
Referee:
Hüseyin Göçek
Attendance:
18,161

Match Stats

Home TeamNorthern IrelandAway TeamNorway
Possession
Home43%
Away57%
Shots
Home10
Away7
Shots on Target
Home3
Away4
Corners
Home4
Away2
Fouls
Home6
Away12

Live Text

Match ends, Northern Ireland 2, Norway 0.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Northern Ireland 2, Norway 0.

Attempt blocked. Oliver Norwood (Northern Ireland) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Matthew Lund.

Jørgen Skjelvik (Norway) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Dangerous play by Kyle Lafferty (Northern Ireland).

Foul by Even Hovland (Norway).

Kyle Lafferty (Northern Ireland) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Substitution

Substitution, Northern Ireland. Matthew Lund replaces Stuart Dallas.

Substitution

Substitution, Northern Ireland. Kyle Lafferty replaces Conor Washington.

Attempt saved. Niall McGinn (Northern Ireland) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

Offside, Norway. Even Hovland tries a through ball, but Mats Møller Dæhli is caught offside.

Substitution

Substitution, Northern Ireland. Niall McGinn replaces Jamie Ward.

Attempt saved. Joshua King (Norway) header from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Håvard Nordtveit.

Foul by Adama Diomande (Norway).

Michael McGovern (Northern Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Corner, Norway. Conceded by Michael McGovern.

Attempt saved. Håvard Nordtveit (Norway) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

Sander Berge (Norway) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Oliver Norwood (Northern Ireland).

Substitution

Substitution, Norway. Sander Berge replaces Stefan Johansen.

Foul by Stefan Johansen (Norway).

Oliver Norwood (Northern Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt saved. Adama Diomande (Norway) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Omar Elabdellaoui with a cross.

Attempt blocked. Steven Davis (Northern Ireland) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Jamie Ward.

Corner, Northern Ireland. Conceded by Gustav Valsvik.

Attempt blocked. Conor Washington (Northern Ireland) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Chris Brunt.

Attempt blocked. Jamie Ward (Northern Ireland) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Chris Brunt.

Foul by Stefan Johansen (Norway).

Steven Davis (Northern Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution

Substitution, Norway. Adama Diomande replaces Alexander Søderlund.

Offside, Northern Ireland. Conor McLaughlin tries a through ball, but Jamie Ward is caught offside.

Foul by Mohamed Elyounoussi (Norway).

Jonny Evans (Northern Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt missed. Stefan Johansen (Norway) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right.

Substitution

Substitution, Norway. Mats Møller Dæhli replaces Tarik Elyounoussi.

Foul by Stefan Johansen (Norway).

Steven Davis (Northern Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Corner, Northern Ireland. Conceded by Even Hovland.

Attempt missed. Jamie Ward (Northern Ireland) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left following a corner.

Corner, Northern Ireland. Conceded by Håvard Nordtveit.

goal

As It Stood

A

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1France5410103713
2Sweden5311103710
3Bulgaria5302810-29
4Netherlands52128627
5Belarus5023210-82
6Luxembourg5014612-61

B

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Switzerland5500103715
2Portugal54011931612
3Hungary52128627
4Faroe Islands512228-65
5Latvia510429-73
6Andorra5014113-121

C

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Germany55002011915
2Northern Ireland5311102810
3Czech Rep52218448
4Azerbaijan521238-57
5Norway510459-43
6San Marino5005123-220

D

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Serbia5320126611
2R. of Ireland532073411
3Wales51408447
4Austria52128717
5Georgia502348-42
6Moldova5014213-111

E

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Poland5410126613
2Montenegro521210647
3Denmark52127527
4Romania51316426
5Armenia5203610-46
6Kazakhstan5023313-102

F

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1England541080813
2Slovakia530210379
3Slovenia52214318
4Scotland521278-17
5Lithuania512259-45
6Malta5005213-110

G

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Spain54101921713
2Italy5410134913
3Israel53029909
4Albania520348-46
5Macedonia5104711-43
6Liechtenstein5005119-180

H

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Belgium54102222013
2Greece5320103711
3Bos-Herze5311135810
4Cyprus511338-54
5Estonia5113515-104
6Gibraltar5005222-200

I

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Croatia54101111013
2Iceland531186210
3Ukraine52217438
4Turkey52217528
5Finland501438-51
6Kosovo5014214-121
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