Northern Ireland 1-5 Norway
A big night for Northern Ireland boss Ian Baraclough and captain Steven Davis was ruined by a rampant Norway at Windsor Park.
Inspired by Borussia Dortmund’s sparkling centre-forward Erling Haaland, the visitors left with a deserved 5-1 victory – inflicting their hosts’ heaviest home defeat since a 5-0 loss to Spain way back in 2002.
It was as bad as possible a way for Baraclough to mark his first home game in charge or for Davis to note a record-equalling night as he tied Pat Jennings’ 119 caps for Northern Ireland.
The manager had left both Jamal Lewis and Jonny Evans out, taking no chances with niggling injuries but in truth, the defence badly missed two of its Premier League components.
Coupled with the absence of the always vociferous Green and White Army, it made for a difficult night for stand-ins Daniel Ballard and Shane Ferguson, as well as right-back Michael Smith.
Haaland and his equally physically imposing strike partner Alexander Sorloth ran riot and fully deserved their two goals apiece, which added to a second minute opener from Celtic winger Mohamed Elyounoussi.
He caught Smith out of position to get on the end of Stefan Johansen's cross, which he took down with a deft touch a finished past an exposed Bailey Peacock-Farrell.
The hosts did make up for that lapse just a few minutes later when Paddy McNair tapped home his fourth international goal to level. Arsenal defender Ballard's long ball allowed Conor Washington to hook a snapshot that could only be parried, allowing McNair a simple finish.
However, a matter of seconds later, Haaland was given the chance he needed. When RB Leipzig target Alexander Sorloth beat Smith to a header on the edge of the box, the ball fell to his striker partner who smashed an unstoppable effort into the top corner.
There was nothing Northern Ireland stopper Peacock-Farrell could do about that or the third, which arrived on 19 minutes. This time it was a curling cross from left-back Haitam Aleesami that exposed an out-of-sorts defence, allowing Sorloth to tap home unopposed at the back post.
Norway successfully killed any threat of a Northern Ireland comeback from then on, the hosts unable to offer any threat barring a couple of Davis efforts over the bar and a Stuart Dallas shot that did little to trouble the keeper.
Baraclough did try to change things at half-time by bringing striker Liam Boyce on for centre-half Ballard but within two minutes of the restart, all hope was lost.
Again it was Haaland who did the damage, played through on goal only to tee up Sorloth for his second of the night – an easy conversion into an empty net.
In truth, it appeared only a matter of time that more would follow and Haaland got his own deserved brace before the hour-mark, this time fed through by Elabdellaoui and again making no mistake with a ruthless finish.
It wasn’t the way Baraclough will have wanted to mark his first home game in charge, but once the likes of Evans and Lewis return, he will be hoping, and praying, his side are much better next time out in the Euro 2020 play-off against Bosnia & Herzegovina on October 8.
Here's the game as it happened: