Spirited Norway hold high-scoring Swiss

A game that promised much lived up to its billing as Switzerland – the only side with six qualifying wins – played out a pulsating 2-2 draw with Norway in Group B of the UEFA European Women’s Under-17 Championship.

The Swiss had scored 26 times in qualification but here the goals were shared out during a topsy-turvy encounter in which the less experienced Norwegians kept their nerve. Both teams found the net once in either half, yet neither could hold onto their respective lead in the matchday one thriller in Kopavogur.

In a well-contested opening, Norway went in front in the tenth minute when captain Ingrid Kvernvolden hammered a free-kick from the right of the area into the right corner. Monica Di Fonzo’s charges sought a way back into the game and had several opportunities to equalise, yet the Norwegians did not drop back and instead kept the pressure on. However, following a momentary lapse in the Scandinavian rearguard, Géraldine Reuteler levelled for Switzerland after a brilliant defence-splitting pass by Lara Jenzer.

From the first minute of the second half the midfield battle escalated as both countries upped the tempo. In the 48th minute, after Jenzer’s initial effort had rebounded to the edge of the box, Switzerland capitalised on some defensive confusion with a nice twist by the Swiss midfielder and a shot into the left corner. But Norway came back strongly and three minutes later Andrea Wilmann headed in from close range following a corner from the left.

The Norwegians claimed fourth place in 2009 and, in what is their first finals appearance since then, Lena Tyriberget’s team will take heart from this showing against a Swiss outfit with strong credentials of their own, including a fourth spot three years ago.

Monica Di Fonzo, Switzerland
Our plan was to win but there were a lot of mistakes in midfield and not enough efficiency in the box whereas Norway played just as we expected. The plan is still to qualify for the semi-finals but of course when you play a game you always want to win and it would have been easier if we had won this one and got three points. Some of the matches in qualification were against much weaker teams; now the best seven at least are here so the quality is higher and therefore it is more difficult to score goals. There was more speed in this game and the contact between the players was much more aggressive than in, say, the France-Ireland game – and there was also more goalmouth action.

Lena Tyriberget, Norway
I expected a tough game because Switzerland have lots of good players in a good attacking team. We know they have scored lots of goals and have good forwards and we were prepared for that. The main challenge today was our own play. My players did their best and more than we could expect – we are happy they came back from 2-1 down, meaning they had good spirit. It was very hard for us to make the play ourselves so overall we were happy with a draw as we still have a chance in the group. The next games will be tough. We saw France today and they look like a good team with good technique and good combination play as well as fine individual skills. We will go for it against France and then we will think about the Ireland match after that. We are very lucky to have a lot of parents and people around the team who support us very well from the stands.

Switzerland and Norway both surrender lead as thriller ends all-square
Swiss Lara Jenzer scores one, sets up another in reply to Norwegian opener
Norway, well supported from the stands, have final say but France top Group B
Republic of Ireland v Switzerland and France v Norway on Thursday