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O'Neill debut ends in defeat

Michael O'Neill's first match in charge of Northern Ireland ended in a 3-0 defeat as a deflected effort and two late goals gave Norway a comfortable victory at Windsor Park.

Things started brightly enough, with the hosts having the best of the first period only to go behind a minute before the break after Sammy Clingan diverted Havard Nordtveit's shot past Lee Camp.

Tarik Elyounoussi then doubled the winning margin with a neat shot in turn and Espen Ruud's volley sealed it in added time.

David Healy started on the bench but with 17 minutes left became his country's most capped outfield player - cap number 92 taking him clear of Mal Donaghy.

Northern Ireland's first attack, in the second minute, saw full-back Ryan McGivern break down the left and fire a powerful effort at goal.

Goalkeeper Rune Jarstein reacted well to tip it over the crossbar only for Dean Shiels to produce a tame header from the resulting corner.

The lively start found the fans in noticeably better voice than they had been at the end of the Nigel Worthington era, with O'Neill's arrival in the technical area warmly welcomed.

However, Norway took the lead a minute before the break when Aaron Hughes half-cleared a corner as far as Nordtveit, whose low shot beat Camp via the unfortunate Clingan.

O'Neill looked to Healy during the second-half in an attempt to grab an equaliser. The Rangers striker was unable to mark the occasion with a goal, although Norway had time for two more.

Elyounoussi extended the visitors' lead three minutes from time when he beat Camp at the near post, before Ruud's superb stoppage-time volley made it 3-0 despite the Nottingham Forest keeper getting a strong hand to it.


From Belfast Telegraph