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Teenage prodigy Martin Odegaard crucial as Ireland lose unbeaten run in Norway

It seemed Noel King’s side were set for a draw but conceded a late, late goal.

Image: Ruben Albarran

Norway 2

Republic of Ireland 1

CAPTAIN IVER FOSSUM scored deep into injury-time to give Norway a crucial victory and shatter the Republic of Ireland Under-21′s unbeaten run in Group 5.

The winner came in the 91st-minute, when it seemed the visitors were set to pick up a point at the Marienlyst Stadium in Drammen.

The guests had been second-best early on as the Norwegians hit the ground running.

Brighton’s Henrik Bjørdal forced Kieran O’Hara into a great stop after 12 minutes but the Manchester United goalkeeper was beaten shortly after, as Bjørdal again proved influential.

He latched onto a neat pass into the left-channel, kept his composure and cut the ball back for Odegaard, who shimmied around O’Hara and tucked home.

But, to their credit, the Irish forced their way back into it.

Harry Charsley had a penalty appeal waved away just shy of the half-hour mark but an equaliser followed soon after.

Noel King’s side were without top-scorer Reece Grego-Cox, who struck a hat-trick against Israel last time out.

But, his replacement – Mulraney, who plays his football with Inverness Caledonian Thistle in Scotland, impressed and took his goal very well.

Declan Rice’s initial break into the Norwegian half led to a loose ball being taken on by Mulraney and he showed electric pace on his way to the edge of the area.

He flew past another Norwegian defender and, despite the narrow angle, kept it low and swept it to the net.

The home side went close to regaining the lead on the hour mark when Odegaard stepped up and whipped a superb free-kick towards the corner but O’Hara superbly tipped it around the post.

But the keeper could do little to deny Fossum, who picked up a loose ball and fired to the net following Odegaard’s corner to secure a vital Norway win.

It means they now move into third place in the group, two points behind the Irish but having played a game more.

King’s side are, themselves, two points behind leaders Germany.

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The group winner qualifies automatically for the 2019 tournament while the best-four runners-up will move into a play-off.

Ireland are next in competitive action in March when they host Azerbaijan.

Buy The42’s new book, Behind The Lines, here:

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Eoin O'Callaghan

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