Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

Pedersen punishes Irish

Erik Huseklepp

Morten Gamst Pedersen proved Ireland's tormentor as Norway came from behind to snatch a 2-1 victory at the Aviva Stadium.

The Blackburn midfielder ruined keeper Shay Given's record 109th appearance for Ireland by curling home a superb 34th-minute free-kick to cancel out Shane Long's fifth-minute penalty.

But there was worse to come for Giovanni Trapattoni's men when Pedersen provided the cross from which Erik Huseklepp scored the winner with just four minutes remaining.

Ireland made a flying start Long's fifth minute run on to John O'Shea's through-ball caused the normally redoubtable Brede Hangeland all sorts of problems and prompted him to haul his man to the ground.

Icelandic referee Kristinn Jakobsson immediately pointed to the spot and with Robbie Keane absent, Long took over spot-kick duties and calmly despatched the ball low to goalkeeper Jon Knudsen's right and into the bottom corner.

A Norway side boasting nine of the men who started last month's qualifier victory in Cyprus, a win which maintained their 100% start, was at sixes and sevens in the opening stages, and they might have fallen further behind with 12 minutes gone.

Kevin Doyle's pass was perfectly weighted for Liam Lawrence to drive in a low cross, and although Knudsen palmed the ball just inches out of Long's reach it fell for Damien Duff. His left-foot drive was firm and accurate, but the keeper recovered to kick it off the line.

With 34 minutes gone, Pedersen laid Hangeland's crisp pass off to Thorstein Helstad and Stephen Kelly handled as he slid in in an attempt to regain possession. Pedersen took charge of the resulting free-kick and curled a superb left-foot shot high to Given's right to give Ireland's most-capped international no chance.

The game opened up as time ran down with both sides looking for a winner, and it took a brave block by Glenn Whelan to keep out John Arne Riise's 76th-minute piledriver from getting anywhere near Given.

However, the Manchester City man was beaten for the second time with four minutes remaining when Pedersen's cross left him cruelly exposed and Huseklepp took full advantage at the far post to snatch victory.

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