Belfast Telegraph

World Cup 2018

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NI open with a defeat after Norway turn on the style

Norway 4 Northern Ireland 1

By Graham Luney

Northern Ireland's senior women side will look to take out their frustration on the Republic of Ireland on Tuesday after kicking off their World Cup qualifying campaign with a 4-1 loss in Norway.

Ranked 14th in the world, the hosts had too much power and pace at the Fredrikstad Stadium for a Northern Ireland squad sitting 60th in the Fifa standings.

Caragh Milligan netted in the second half for the visitors but a Guro Reiten brace and further goals from Caroline Graham-Hansen and Lisa-Marie Utland secured the win.

Lauren Perry, despite being only 16, was handed her senior debut in a tough baptism.

Netherlands, Republic of Ireland and Slovakia make up a tough looking Group 3.

Northern Ireland may be bottom seeds in the group but they are targeting third place.

The clash against the Republic at Mourneview Park on Tuesday (7.30pm) is a swift opportunity to get the show back on the road and this defeat will be a valuable learning experience.

Boss Alfie Wylie said: "The defence was immense. Lauren Perry at 16 years of age making her senior debut was unbelievably good.

"Ashley (Hutton) and Julie (Nelson) have been about for a number of years and bless us the days when those decide to not play after their performances tonight.

"You can't fault anyone, we worked hard but they were the better side and you put your hand up."

Norway took the lead on 15 minutes when Reiten fired the ball home. Just before the interval, Norway were awarded a penalty and Graham-Hansen converted.

A neat finish from a tight angle from Utland in the 52nd minute made it 3-0 but Northern Ireland reduced the deficit. Rachel Newborough slid the ball down the line for Furness who found an unmarked Milligan in the box and the finish was a simple one. In injury time Reiten got her second to round off the scoring.

Northern Ireland: Perry, Newborough, Foy, Hutton, Nelson, Sherwood (83), Montgomery, Milligan, Hyndman (20), Callaghan (C), Furness. Subs: C.Callaghan, Lindsay, Rafferty (83), Brennan, Kelly (20), McCarron, Carleton.

• Northern Ireland's future stars were sensationally disqualified from a youth tournament in Spain after fielding a fourth substitute.

The Club NI under-14s were cruising 2-0 in front against FC Roskilde at the Madrid Cup, but with less than two minutes remaining Padraig Lynch came off injured and coach Pascal Vaudequin claims the referee sanctioned a fourth sub.

Northern Ireland are now eliminated from the competition, featuring Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool.

Belfast Telegraph

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