Norway put six past Northern Ireland women during Kenny Shiels first match in charge
Northern Ireland’s desire to play attractive passing football under new manager Kenny Shiels contributed to their own downfall as their Women’s Euro 2021 got off to the worst possible start.
Norwegian striker Caroline Graham Hansen netted a hat-trick as the World Cup quarter-finalists won 6-0 at Seaview.
It was. however, the first goal Guron Reiten from which showed the positives and negatives of Shiels’ footballing philosophy.
The new boss deserves credit for trying to play a possession game, but against Norway’s high press the Northern Ireland defenders struggled to get the ball up the pitch.
This was evident from early and Norway capitalised after just eight minutes.
Captain Sarah McFadden received the ball just outside the box and with little on knocked it back to goalkeeper Jacqueline Burns, but she failed to get a touch on the ball as it rolled towards her, allowing Guron Reiten to nip in and poke it over the line.
Disaster struck again for Northern Ireland just eight minutes later in similar circumstances. The ball was lost on the edge of the 18-yard box as they attempted to play out and Graham Hansen fired a low drive into the bottom corner of the net.
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The Shiels effect could clearly be seen in an attacking sense too though with some clever set piece moves.
Norwegian goalkeeper had to react quickly to collected the ball just ahead of Magill. Then a free-kick just inside the Norwegian half was played low into the box by Rachel Furness and then out to Rebecca McKenna, causing a moment of panic in the defence before being cleared.
Northern Ireland enjoyed more possession in the second half, but the clinical Norwegians showed their class in front of goal.
Graham Hansen ghosted past Julie Nelson and Ashley Hutton on the left of the box to slot in a third on 63 minutes and she then completed her hat-trick with similar skill on the right before rolling the ball past Burns.
Substitute Amalie Eikeland completed the high five eight minutes from time when her shot clipped a Northern Ireland defender inside the box, taking it out of Burns’ grasp.
Eikeland got her second just as the game entered injury time, tapping home from close range after Hansen’s ball in from the left.
NORTHERN IRELAND: Burns, Newborough, Nelson, Hutton, Holdaway, McKenna (Wade 68 mins), McFadden (Montgomery 68 mins), Furness, McCarron, Vance (Callaghan, 68 mins), Magill. Subs: Higgins, Flaherty, Johnson, Holloway, Bell, White.
NORWAY: Fiskerstrand, Mjelde, Thorisdottir, Wold, Boe Risa, Syrstad Engen (Eikeland, 71 mins), Minde, Saevik, Reiten (Thorsnes, 84 mins), Graham Hansen, Utland (Maanum, 71 mins). Subs: Bogstad, Hjelmseth, S Hansen, T Hansen,Veronika Kovarova (Czech Republic).
Belfast Telegraph Digital