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Haaland hat-trick when the national team took its first victory this year: – As ordered

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Erling Braut Haaland celebrates after completing his hat-trick in the match against Kosovo at Ullevaal. Photo: Fredrik Varfjell / NTB

Of NTB | 06/05/2024 23:13:09

Sport: As usual, Haaland did not stop in the press zone after the match, but his national team mates had a lot of good things to say about him.

– A unique item, said Kristian Thorstvedt.

– It is an honor to play with him. It was cool to give him an assist for the first time, said Aron Dønnum.

– I ordered a hat-trick from him before the match. There were some great counterattacks today, and then we kept a clean sheet, said Alexander Sørloth, who himself could not play due to injury.

In the 15th minute, Norway recovered the ball favorably. Martin Ødegaard got the ball to Haaland, who hit a nice outside pass to David Møller Wolfe. Then he ran into the box and met the left-back’s perfect cross with an unassailable header.

It was Haaland’s 28th national team goal, and the first since the away game against Cyprus last October. He had been goalless in four international games since then.

Haaland’s next goal came in the 70th minute, on a beautifully executed counterattack with two substitutes as waiters. Dønnum played Antonio Nusa, who carried the ball at high speed and released it at the perfect moment to Haaland, who had turned on the turbo. The finish did not leave the goalkeeper a chance.

– He pulled through and was strong as usual. He played to me and then I heard my name and saw a large shadow to my left. I played back, and then he put it, of course, said Dønnum.

Kosovo protested and claimed that Haaland tore Fidan Aliti’s shirt when he took down the play, but was not heard by the referee.

The star striker could celebrate his third hat-trick for the national team. Previously, he has done it against Romania and Gibraltar.

– It was okay to complete, but no more. We were not as good offensively today as we were in the previous two private matches, although the result today was much better. It has something to do with the fact that the efficiency at the top was a little different today than in those matches, said national team manager Ståle Solbakken to TV 2.

Despite the early lead goal, Norway was not flooded with opportunities in the first half, which was rather poor in chances. Haaland had a great chance to make it 2-0, while his header on a free kick from Ødegaard in the 35th minute was brilliantly saved by Visar Bekaj.

Kristoffer Ajer also put Kosovo’s goalkeeper to the test with a header on a corner kick from Ødegaard in the 28th minute, and five minutes before the break, team captain Ødegaard had a shot that grazed the post.

Kosovo created little going forward, but came up with an opportunity in overtime in the half when substitute Albion Rrahmani got a nod from a good position, but steered the ball wide.

– It has varied a bit. We still want to control the game and get more chances, but we also have to know when to go for recovery and when to lower ourselves and be compact, said Solbakken’s assistant Kent Bergersen to TV 2.

Three substitutions were made at halftime.

– We want to roll and let more people get the chance, said Bergersen about Antonio Nusa, Morten Thorsby and Marcus Holmgren Pedersen entering. In that half, Norway played 4-3-3.

Nusa had a chance almost immediately after fine preparation by Haaland, but the shot was blocked. Thorsby also had a chance in the opening minutes of the half, after a cross from Nusa, but he couldn’t get the momentum of the header.

– It’s always fun when you feel that it works and you get a payoff, he said.

Solbakken also sent two debutants on the field in Jostein Gundersen and Andreas Schjelderup. The latter came in when Haaland was taken off the field and applauded by the crowd in the last regular minute of the game.

Norway clearly won over number 102 in the Fifa ranking, but will face tougher opposition on Saturday. Then there is an away game against EC-ready Denmark, who are 81 places ahead of Kosovo and 26 ahead of Norway in the ranking.

In the 75th minute, Haaland completed his hat-trick and completed 30 national team goals – three behind Jørgen Juve’s record. He took down a long play and played forward Dønnum, who served a wall pass Haaland could roll into the empty net.

Solbakken made an adjustment in the formation from the start. For a long time, Ødegaard has jumped up in pressure at the top together with Haaland, but then let himself down and pressed in a five in the middle. Now Norway settled for a four in midfield, and the formation became 4-4-1-1.

For the third time this year, Norway took the lead 1-0 at Ullevaal, but in March it ended with 1-2 against the Czech Republic and 1-1 against Slovakia after late goals. There was therefore no reassuring management.

Kosovo pushed forward more frequently in the second half and at times put Norway under pressure, but without getting any really big chances. Norway adjusted again and played 4-5-1, and then came the goals that punctuated the match. Aron Dønnum made a very good entry and was involved in both goals and several chances.

(© NTB)

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