International friendly: Wales 4-1 Norway

By Dewi HughesBBC Wales Sport
Gareth Bale puts Wales ahead
Gareth Bale crashes in a fierce left-foot drive to put Wales ahead

Wales' renaissance under Gary Speed continued as goals from Gareth Bale and Craig Bellamy plus a Sam Vokes brace secured a third successive victory.

Bale's opener arrived on 11 minutes when his cracking shot from an acute angle squeezed in at the near post.

Bellamy doubled the lead five minutes later with a beautiful curler that found the top-right corner.

Wayne Hennessey's awful error gave Erik Huseklepp a tap-in but Vokes struck twice late on to seal another win.

The home side looked decidedly nervous after Huseklepp cut the deficit with half an hour remaining, but they weathered the storm, showing some grit to complement the earlier flair at Cardiff City Stadium.

It is the first time since 2008 that Wales have won three consecutive matches, while they have now been victorious in four of their last five outings.

And although the final score flattered the hosts, Speed's men outclassed a Norwegian team ranked 21 places above them in the Fifa world rankings.

After Norway missed out on a place in the Euro 2012 play-offs on goal difference, captain Brede Hangeland had revealed some of his squad were finding inspiration hard to come by for the friendly.

Wales took full advantage of the visitors' lethargy by scoring twice inside the first 16 minutes to stamp their authority on proceedings.

Adam Matthews, making his first start, began the move that led to the opener for the imperious Bale, scoring his third goal in as many games.

The Tottenham Hotspur player laid off the left-back's pass to Steve Morison, who then sent Bale clear by lifting the ball over the Norway defence.

The angle was acute on the left side of the box but Bale unleashed a thunderous drive that beat Rune Jarstein at his near post.

If Jarstein was at fault for the first, the Norway goalkeeper had no chance five minutes later when Bellamy found the top-right corner with a sublime effort.

Again Matthews was involved as his overlapping run down the left flank attracted Norway right-back Espen Ruud, opening space for Bellamy.

The Liverpool forward cut inside on his right foot and found the top corner with aplomb.

Jarstein made amends as Wales' first-half dominance continued when he reacted superbly to keep out Morison's deflected effort.

Gareth Bale and Craig Bellamy celebrate
Bellamy celebrates with Bale after doubling Wales' lead

At times it was becoming too easy for Wales, but their casualness almost cost them when a stray midfield pass gave Mohammed Abdellaoui sight of goal.

His fierce low drive fizzed along the surface and crashed against the post, and the rebound fell kindly for the home side.

Norway's apparent lack of appetite for the game was further highlighted as manager Egil Olsen made a host of substitutions at the beginning of the second half.

But a horrendous mistake by Hennessey gave the visitors a lifeline with half an hour to go.

Having been a virtual spectator, the Wolves stopper came out to gather a loose ball near the penalty spot, but he fumbled and knocked the ball against Andrew Crofts.

It fell perfectly into Huseklepp's path and he had an open goal to aim for.

For the first time in the match, Norway's tails were up, and Morten Gamst Pedersen came within inches of connecting with Ruud's low cross.

Wales were becoming static, dropping further back towards their own goal and showing signs of nerves.

But a change of formation and a few penetrative runs down the flanks by the impressive Bellamy and Bale gave the home side breathing space.

And as the final whistle approached, substitute Vokes put the result beyond doubt with two goals in a minute.

A flowing move between Bellamy and Bale gave the striker a simple tap-in at the far post for the first, and he capped another encouraging Wales win by finding the bottom corner with a low drive.


Wales: Hennessey, Gunter, Matthews, Williams, Blake, Allen (Robson-Kanu 76), Crofts, Ramsey (King 90), Bale, Bellamy (Edwards 90), Morison (Vokes 70).

Subs Not Used: Price, Nyatanga, Earnshaw.

Goals: Bale 11, Bellamy 16, Vokes 88, 89.

Norway: Jarstein (Pettersen 46), Ruud, Waehler (Demidov 46), Hangeland, Riise, Pedersen, Tettey, Grindheim (Brenne 54), Jenssen (Parr 85), Abdellaoui (Braaten 77), Huseklepp.

Subs Not Used: Vilsvik, Sorum.

Booked: Ruud.

Goals: Huseklepp 61.

Att: 12,637

Ref: Gerhard Grobelnik (Austria).

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