Republic secure Norway draw
Republic of Ireland were held to a 1-1 draw with Norway at Ullevaal Stadion.
Last Updated: 21/08/08 9:05am
Republic of Ireland ended their preparations for the beginning of the 2010 World Cup qualifiers with a 1-1 draw against Norway at Ullevaal Stadion.
Giovanni Trapattoni's side face back-to-back qualifiers against Georgia and Montenegro in September and the Italian was hoping to go into those fixtures with a win in Scandinavia.
However, Ireland were forced to settle for a share of the spoils as Robbie Keane's first half opener was cancelled out by Tore Reginiussen's equaliser after the interval.
Ireland were fortunate to avoid going behind in the early stages when a long ball caused problems for John O'Shea and the Manchester United centre-back was grateful to see goalkeeper Shay Given save excellently at the feet of debutant Mohamed Abdellaoui.
But Trapattoni - who remains unbeaten as Ireland boss - saw his side settle and on 44 minutes Liverpool striker Keane latched onto a Damien Duff pass to cut in on his left foot and fire past Rune Almenning Jarstein.
The beginning of the second half was greeted by torrential rain and Norway benefited as on 61 minutes Ireland's substitute shot-stopper Dean Kiely flapped at a free-kick and Reginiussen was left with a simple tap-in after the ball deflected off a helpless Kevin Kilbane.
Trapattoni voiced the opinion in the run-up to the game that his side and that coached by Age Hareide face similar tests in the World Cup qualifying campaigns, the Irish having to cope with the might of Italy as well as tricky clashes with the likes of Georgia and Montenegro, while Norway take on Holland and Scotland.
With Norway occupying joint 29th place in Fifa's latest rankings - the Republic are 41st - he was confident the test at the Ullevaal Stadium would be a more than useful one before hostilities begin in earnest next month.
In that context, he will have been a happy man at the break having seen his players recover from an uncertain start to dominate.
The Norwegians' 4-3-3 formation initially caused Ireland problems with central defender Dunne in particular having difficulty even keeping his feet on a sodden pitch.
Given was grateful to see striker Abdellaoue lift a 10th minute shot over the bar after running onto John Arne Riise's pass and rounding O'Shea.
Riise forced the game's first real save 12 minutes later with a dipping drive which Given claimed low to his right.
However, as the half wore on, it was the visitors who began to control the match with wingers Duff and Aiden McGeady seeing plenty of the ball as Steven Reid and Glenn Whelan held firm in central midfield.
They might have gone ahead on the half-hour when Keane twisted his way into the penalty area and unleashed a firm left-foot shot from a tight angle which goalkeeper Jarstein did well to turn away.
But with a minute remaining before the break, Norway were still coming to terms with the premature departure of midfielder Fredrik Stromstad and Keane cut inside from the right and fired past Jarstein to claim the 34th goal of his international career.
Given's contribution ended at the break when he was replaced by Kiely, while Blackburn's Morten Gamst Pedersen replaced Daniel Fredheim Holm as Hareide looked to pose a different threat.
But the game was increasingly becoming a lottery with surface water gathering and no sign of the deluge relenting.
A resurgent Norway, however, were enjoying the better of the game and the equaliser finally arrived six minutes later when Kiely came for, but missed, Martin Andresen's left-wing free-kick, and when a stunned Kilbane could only head the ball back across goal, Reginiussen gleefully converted from point-blank range.
The Irish were in some disarray and had Kilbane not thrown himself into the path of Riise's audacious 65th-minute volley, Kiely might have been picking the ball out of his net once again.
Trapattoni opted for a change as the clock ran down when, having already replaced Kevin Doyle with Daryl Murphy, he sent on Stephen Hunt and Stephen Kelly for McGeady and Steve Finnan.
But although the Irish regained a foothold in the game - it took a fine last-ditch interception from Reginiussen to stop Keane collecting Murphy's 86th-minute through-ball - it was the home side who looked the more likely victors.Riise saw an 89th-minute shot deflected just wide as the home fans rose to their feet, but there was to be no further addition to the scoreline.
|Norway||Team Statistics||Republic of Ireland|
|0||1st Half Goals||1|
|3||Shots on Target||3|
|4||Shots off Target||2|