Norway win but bow out with Ireland

Norway were 14 minutes away from reaching the UEFA European Women’s Under-17 Championship semi-finals until events elsewhere determined they would be leaving Iceland together with the Republic of Ireland outfit they overcame 2-0 in Sunday’s Group B climax in Kopavogur.

At kick-off Lena Tyriberget’s side needed to win and hope second-placed Switzerland lost to leaders France. Thanks to first-half strikes from Jenny Norem and Ingrid Kvernvolden they were poised to pinch the runners-up spot on goal difference from a Swiss team trailing France; but that was until the 66th minute of the match in Fylkir when Switzerland equalised.

As it was, the Scandinavians’ four points left them two short of France while Ireland, who knew their fate after matchday two, finished bottom. Dave Connell’s side nonetheless fought hard and arguably deserved more from both the contest and their overall campaign. The Norwegian goals came when Norem profited from a loose ball at the back post on 19 minutes, then when captain Kvernvolden struck from distance just before half-time.

Similar to their two previous outings – 1-0 reverses to France and Switzerland – the Irish started brightly, dictating the tempo with their running and passing. However, Eleanor Ryan-Doyle volleyed over and Heather Payne’s shot deflected wide. Norway were more fortunate in front of goal as Norem prodded in after goalkeeper Amanda McQuillan dropped a cross. And after menacing headers from Andrea Norheim and Kvernvolden, the skipper doubled the advantage as her attempt span off McQuillan and into the net.

Nor did Ireland’s luck change after the restart, with Jessica Nolan, Ryan-Doyle and captain Jamie Finn all going close before Finn earned a penalty which she proceeded to clip against the crossbar. However, given the turnaround in the France-Switzerland game, Tyriberget and company perhaps had even greater reason to feel rueful as their elimination was decided by a late Swiss turnaround.

Lena Tyriberget, Norway
The team played a good match and we scored two goals. That could have taken us to the semi-finals, but unfortunately for us Switzerland were stronger than France today. We wish both teams good luck further on in the tournament. For this Norwegian team it was an achivement to enter the championship here in Iceland. We have had experiences which will develop our team and our players for the future.

Dave Connell, Republic of Ireland
We played some fantastic football but we just didn’t score a goal. I’m very, very proud of our girls and we can hold our heads up high with how we’ve played in this tournament. It was a fantastic achievement to qualify and we performed well in our three games, but just didn’t get that bit of luck.

Norway get required victory but still bow out along with Ireland
Jenny Norem and Ingrid Kvernvolden on target in opening period
Jamie Finn misses second-half spot kick as Irish suffer third defeat
Four points not enough with Norwegians consigned to third in Group B