The almost-achievement in Vienna

(Austria-Norway 1-1) There was a lack of scoring, and the opportunities were there. But the almost-achievement this Norwegian national team stood for in Vienna, it will be remembered for a long time. We got far more than we could expect.

Because here it was a goalkeeper (Per Kristian Bråtveit) who took everything, including with his back. We had a stopper pair (Andras Hanche-Olsen and Ruben Gabrielsen) who did not waver a second, a duo in central midfield (Sondre Tronstad and Fredrik Ulvestad) who looked like they had played 40 international matches together, we had the captain, Mats Møller Dæhli, who gave the lead and gave everything in all situations, Ghayas Zahid who kept the ball when the game was too rushed.

And at the top, Veton Berisha worked as if he were going at speed. You saw it in his eyes: This was to be won, cost what it would cost. And together with Jørgen Strand Larsen, Berisha created a lot of unrest for the Austrians.

It is almost a bit painful to think that maybe it was just missed by a slightly safer goal scorer (Erling Braut Haaland) which means that Norway did not get more goals in Vienna. For Jørgen Strand Larsen, Jørgen Skjelvik and Veton Berisha had a total of five great chances – before Norway finally scored.

Slightly better efficiency. It was basically just what was missing.

But the scoring really came in time, after just over an hour. Jørgen Strand Larsen and Veton Berisha created the chance that Ghayas Zahid scored on, via goalkeeper. Just then it was easy to believe in a Norwegian miracle, most of it went Norway’s way. Even a shot from a meter away hit Bråtveit in the back – and Norway escaped with the horror.

The evenness among Norwegian football players became clear in Vienna yesterday: With the right match plan and a tremendous effort, the players who are considered third choice by Lars Lagerbäck made you hardly different from the supposed best.

Actually, it is only an old ice hockey rule that could have meant that this C-team (positively meant) does not send Norway up in the A-pool in the Nations League – and to a possible World Cup play-off: Mutual settlement decides – and 2-1 to Austria in Oslo is better than what looked to be Norway’s 1-0 in Vienna on Wednesday night.

But those are the rules, and it does not help that not everyone thinks that it is a good rule: Norway will not get a free chance, extra, for the World Cup in 2022. It must be so. In any case, this football autumn has been so different than it normally would have been, that we can only enjoy the fact that we sent a national team to Vienna that really stood up for their country, for the nation – and showed that there are many good football players in Norway.

11 men made their debut on the A national team in Vienna. This has not happened since Norway’s first international match, in 1908.

It’s about getting the chance.

Norway went empty towards the end, and the Austrians equalized. But it did not matter, because Norway had to score another goal anyway. And the Norwegian players could not stand it.


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