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Jamie Ward fires in Northern Ireland's early goal against Norway

Northern Ireland remain on course for a World Cup play-off spot thanks to an impressive qualifier win over Norway.

Jamie Ward’s strike put the hosts in front inside two minutes and Steven Davis set up Conor Washington to fire in the second on 33 at Windsor Park.

Alexander Soderlund hit the crossbar in the first half but it was a disappointing start to Lars Lagerback’s managerial reign with the Norwegians.

Northern Ireland are two points clear of third-placed Czech Republic.

World champions Germany beat Azerbaijan 4-1 in Baku on Sunday to remain five points clear of Michael O’Neill’s side.

The Czechs earned a 6-0 win over bottom-placed San Marino on Sunday, with Azerbaijan a further point back and the Norwegians surely out of contention 12 off the pace following their defeat at Windsor Park.

Ward strike gives NI perfect start

Ward’s strike gave Northern Ireland the perfect start as the Nottingham Forest striker justified his return to the starting line-up by arrowing in his shot from 20 yards.

It set the tone for a dominant first-half display from O’Neill’s team although Norway provided a rare threat when Soderlund’s dipping volley crashed off the woodwork.

The lead was doubled on 33 minutes with a pinpoint through ball from Davis sending Washington clear and the striker slotted in from 10 yards.

Norway improved after the interval but they struggled to carve out clear-cut openings.

Northern Ireland keeper Michael McGovern did make a good save to keep out a long-range Havard Nordtveit free-kick but it was mostly huff and puff stuff from the visitors.

Line-ups

Northern Ireland

  • 1McGovern
  • 20Cathcart
  • 4McAuley
  • 5Evans
  • 16Norwood
  • 2McLaughlin
  • 8Davis
  • 11Brunt
  • 14DallasBooked at 43minsSubstituted forLundat 88′minutes
  • 19WardSubstituted forMcGinnat 80′minutes
  • 9WashingtonSubstituted forLaffertyat 85′minutes

Substitutes

  • 3Lafferty
  • 6Hodson
  • 7McGinn
  • 10Lafferty
  • 12Mannus
  • 15Boyce
  • 17Lund
  • 18Paton
  • 21McLaughlin
  • 22Flanagan
  • 23Carroll

Norway

  • 1Jarstein
  • 14Elabdellaoui
  • 3Hovland
  • 5Valsvik
  • 2Skjelvik
  • 6NordtveitBooked at 44mins
  • 8JohansenSubstituted forBergeat 75′minutes
  • 18Elyounoussi
  • 7King
  • 11ElyounoussiSubstituted forMøller Dæhliat 53′minutes
  • 9SøderlundSubstituted forDiomandeat 63′minutes

Substitutes

  • 4Reginiussen
  • 10Konradsen
  • 12Nyland
  • 13Berge
  • 15Møller Dæhli
  • 16Svensson
  • 17Hedenstad
  • 19Berisha
  • 20Diomande
  • 21Semb Berge
  • 22Hansen
  • 23Berget
Referee:
Hüseyin Göçek
Attendance:
18,161

Match Stats

Home TeamNorthern IrelandAway TeamNorway
Possession
Home43%
Away57%
Shots
Home10
Away7
Shots on Target
Home3
Away4
Corners
Home4
Away2
Fouls
Home6
Away12

Live Text

Match ends, Northern Ireland 2, Norway 0.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Northern Ireland 2, Norway 0.

Attempt blocked. Oliver Norwood (Northern Ireland) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Matthew Lund.

Jørgen Skjelvik (Norway) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Dangerous play by Kyle Lafferty (Northern Ireland).

Foul by Even Hovland (Norway).

Kyle Lafferty (Northern Ireland) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Substitution

Substitution, Northern Ireland. Matthew Lund replaces Stuart Dallas.

Substitution

Substitution, Northern Ireland. Kyle Lafferty replaces Conor Washington.

Attempt saved. Niall McGinn (Northern Ireland) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

Offside, Norway. Even Hovland tries a through ball, but Mats Møller Dæhli is caught offside.

Substitution

Substitution, Northern Ireland. Niall McGinn replaces Jamie Ward.

Attempt saved. Joshua King (Norway) header from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Håvard Nordtveit.

Foul by Adama Diomande (Norway).

Michael McGovern (Northern Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Corner, Norway. Conceded by Michael McGovern.

Attempt saved. Håvard Nordtveit (Norway) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

Sander Berge (Norway) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Oliver Norwood (Northern Ireland).

Substitution

Substitution, Norway. Sander Berge replaces Stefan Johansen.

Foul by Stefan Johansen (Norway).

Oliver Norwood (Northern Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt saved. Adama Diomande (Norway) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Omar Elabdellaoui with a cross.

Attempt blocked. Steven Davis (Northern Ireland) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Jamie Ward.

Corner, Northern Ireland. Conceded by Gustav Valsvik.

Attempt blocked. Conor Washington (Northern Ireland) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Chris Brunt.

Attempt blocked. Jamie Ward (Northern Ireland) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Chris Brunt.

Foul by Stefan Johansen (Norway).

Steven Davis (Northern Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution

Substitution, Norway. Adama Diomande replaces Alexander Søderlund.

Offside, Northern Ireland. Conor McLaughlin tries a through ball, but Jamie Ward is caught offside.

Foul by Mohamed Elyounoussi (Norway).

Jonny Evans (Northern Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt missed. Stefan Johansen (Norway) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right.

Substitution

Substitution, Norway. Mats Møller Dæhli replaces Tarik Elyounoussi.

Foul by Stefan Johansen (Norway).

Steven Davis (Northern Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Corner, Northern Ireland. Conceded by Even Hovland.

Attempt missed. Jamie Ward (Northern Ireland) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left following a corner.

Corner, Northern Ireland. Conceded by Håvard Nordtveit.

goal

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