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Norway Women vs Northern Ireland Women. Women's European Championship Group A.

St. Mary's StadiumAttendance9,146.

Norway Women 4

  • J Blakstad (10th minute)
  • F Maanum (13th minute)
  • C Hansen (31st minute pen)
  • G Reiten (54th minute)

Northern Ireland Women 1

  • J Nelson (49th minute)

Norway Women 4-1 Northern Ireland Women: First-half onslaught sees historic Euro 2022 debut end in defeat

Match report as Julie Nelson makes history with Northern Ireland's only goal in their first match at a major tournament in 4-1 defeat to Norway; Julie Blakstad, Frida Maanum, Caroline Graham Hansen and Guro Reiten score for Euro 2022 dark horses

Northern Ireland were beaten 4-1 by Norway on Thursday
Image: Northern Ireland were beaten 4-1 by Norway on Thursday

Northern Ireland Women put up a brave resistance on a historic night for Kenny Shiels' side but were well beaten 4-1 by Norway in their Euro 2022 opener at St Mary's.

In their first game at a major tournament, Northern Ireland always faced an uphill task against a talented Norway side but were left shellshocked when a trio of first-half goals put the game beyond them by half-time.

After left-back Julie Blakstad beat Jackie Burns at her near post in the 10th minute, Norway pounced again three minutes later when Northern Ireland attempted to play out from the back, and Frida Maanum was teed up for a simple finish.

It was three on the half-hour mark when Caroline Graham Hansen fired in from the penalty spot after a VAR review spotted a Nadene Caldwell handball from a corner, and Northern Ireland went in at the break grateful not to be further behind.

They re-emerged a more confident and organised team and gave themselves hope with another moment of history, as Rachel Furness kept a corner alive to cross for Julie Nelson to nod home from close range.

Julie Nelson nodded in Northern Ireland's first ever goal at a major tournament
Image: Julie Nelson nodded in Northern Ireland's first-ever finals goal

The two sides briefly swapped roles with Northern Ireland pushing for more, but their tentative hopes of a comeback were quashed when Chelsea's Guro Reiten fired home a 20-yard free-kick to ensure an emphatic Norway victory.

'Nervous' Northern Ireland find life tough against quality opposition

Northern Ireland and Norway were familiar with one another after they were drawn in the same qualifying group for the finals tournament, with the Green and White Army on the wrong end of two 6-0 defeats when they met in Belfast and Stavanger.

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That, coupled with the new experience of reaching a major finals was enough to leave Northern Ireland nervous against such quality opposition in the opening half, and despite registering plenty of possession the home nation looked fragile whenever they lost the ball.

It was made too easy to produce the switch of play which led to Norway's opener and chaotic as Ada Hagerberg robbed the Northern Ireland defence to set up the second.

Only then did Shiels' side start to get a hold on proceedings, and would not concede a goal in open play for the rest of the game.

Norway saw a brave Northern Ireland side 4-1 in the Green and White Army's first ever game at a major tournament
Image: Norway saw off a brave Northern Ireland side 4-1 in the Green and White Army's first game at a major tournament

His half-time message at 3-0 down would have likely focused on the second-half scoreline rather than rescuing the match, but after Nelson's header shortly after the interval there was a brief moment where it seemed an unlikely comeback could be on the cards.

It did not materialise, with Reiten's free-kick bursting the Northern Ireland bubble again, but there are signs of optimism to take into Monday's second game against Austria, who Shiels and his team will view as beatable opposition - if they can keep up their second-half performance across 90 minutes.

What's next?

Norway and Northern Ireland are back in action on Monday. Norway will face England at the Amex Stadium (kick-off 8pm) while Northern Ireland take on Austria at St Mary's (kick-off 5pm).

Group A will conclude on Friday July 15. Northern Ireland will face tournament hosts England in Southampton with Norway playing Austria at the Amex Stadium. Both games will kick off at 8pm.

Follow Euro 2022 across Sky Sports

Keep up with all the latest from Euro 2022 across Sky Sports and Sky Sports News this summer.

Coverage will be anchored by Sky Sports WSL presenter Caroline Barker, alongside Jessica Creighton and Kyle Walker. Meanwhile, Karen Carney, Sue Smith, Courtney Sweetman-Kirk and Laura Bassett will give analysis throughout the tournament.

They will also be joined by experienced England goalkeeper Karen Bardsley and Manchester City defender Esme Morgan.

The pundits and presenters will work from the Sky Sports Women's Euro 2022 Mobile Presentation Bus, which will follow the Sky Sports News team around the country to the various stadiums where matches are being played.

In addition, Sky Sports' Essential Football Podcast will be rebranded for the tournament to Sky Sports Women's Euros Podcast from 21 June. Hosted by Charlotte Marsh and Anton Toloui, it will feature exclusive news and player interviews in addition to a strong programme line up around the tournament.

Euro 2022: The groups...

Group A: England, Austria, Norway, Northern Ireland

Group B: Germany, Denmark, Spain, Finland

Group C: Netherlands, Sweden, Portugal, Switzerland

Group D: France, Italy, Belgium, Iceland

Euro 2022: The schedule...

Group stage

Wednesday July 6

Group A: England 1-0 Austria

Thursday July 7

Group A: Norway 4-1 Northern Ireland

Friday July 8

Group B: Spain vs Finland - kick off 5pm, Stadium MK

Group B: Germany vs Denmark - kick off 8pm, London Community Stadium

Saturday July 9

Group C: Portugal vs Switzerland - kick off 5pm, Leigh Sports Village

Group C: Netherlands vs Sweden - kick off 8pm, Bramall Lane

Sunday July 10

Group D: Belgium vs Iceland - kick off 5pm, Manchester City Academy Stadium

Group D: France vs Italy - kick off 8pm, New York Stadium

Monday July 11

Group A: Austria vs Northern Ireland - kick off 5pm, St Mary's

Group A: England v Norway - kick off 8pm, Brighton and Hove Community Stadium

Tuesday July 12

Group B: Denmark vs Finland - kick off 5pm, Stadium MK

Group B: Germany vs Spain - kick off 8pm, London Community Stadium

Wednesday July 13

Group C: Sweden vs Switzerland - kick off 5pm, Bramall Lane

Group C: Netherlands v Portugal - kick off 8pm, Leigh Sports Village

Thursday July 14

Group D: Italy vs Iceland - kick off 5pm, Manchester City Academy Stadium

Group D: France vs Belgium - kick off 8pm, New York Stadium

Friday July 15

Group A: Northern Ireland v England - kick off 8pm, St Mary's

Group A: Austria vs Norway - kick off 8pm, Brighton and Hove Community Stadium

Saturday July 16

Group B: Finland vs Germany - kick off 8pm, Stadium MK

Group B: Denmark vs Spain - kick off 8pm, London Community Stadium

Sunday July 17

Group C: Switzerland vs Netherlands - kick off 5pm, Bramall Lane

Group C: Sweden vs Portugal - kick off 5pm, Leigh Sports Village

Monday July 18

Group D: Iceland vs France - kick off 8pm, New York Stadium

Group D: Italy vs Belgium - kick off 8pm, Manchester City Academy Stadium

Knockout phase

Quarter-finals

Wednesday July 20

Quarter-final 1: Winners Group A v Runners-up Group B - kick off 8pm, Brighton and Hove Community Stadium

Thursday July 21

Quarter-final 2: Winners Group B v Runners-up Group A - kick off 8pm, London Community Stadium

Friday July 22

Quarter-final 3: Winners Group C v Runners-up Group D - kick off 8pm, Leigh Sports Village

Quarter-final 4: Winners Group D v Runners-up Group C - kick off 8pm, New York Stadium

Semi-finals

Tuesday July 26

Semi-final 1: Winners quarter-final 1 v Winners quarter-final 3 - kick off 8pm, Bramall Lane

Wednesday July 27

Semi-final 2: Winners quarter-final 2 v Winners quarter-final 4 - kick-off 8pm, Stadium MK

Final

Sunday July 31

Winners semi-final 1 v Winners semi-final 2 - kick off 5pm, Wembley

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