Northern Ireland 0 Norway 3: Same old problems for new man Michael O"Neill

Northern Ireland 0 Norway 3: Same old problems for new man O'Neill

Michael O'Neill's first match in charge of Northern Ireland ended in defeat as a deflected opener and two late goals gave Norway a comfortable victory at Windsor Park.

Things started brightly enough, with the hosts having the best of the first period only to go behind a minute before the break after Sammy Clingan diverted Havard Nordtveit's shot past Lee Camp.

Tarik Elyounoussi then doubled the winning margin with a neat shot on the turn and Espen Ruud's volley sealed it in added time.

Fortunate goal: Havard Nordtveit celebrates his goal with Marcus Henriksen

Fortunate goal: Havard Nordtveit celebrates his goal with Marcus Henriksen

MATCH FACTS

Northern Ireland: Camp, McAuley, Hughes, Jonathan Evans, McGivern, Corry Evans, Clingan, Davis, Ferguson, Shiels, Paterson.

Subs: Mannus, Hodson, McGinn, Healy, McCann, Duff, McQuoid, McCourt, Carson, McGovern.

Norway: Jarstein, Hogli, Rogne, Demidov, Riise, Henriksen, Nordtveit, Grindheim, Pedersen, Abdellaoui, Huseklepp.

Subs: Pettersen, Reginiussen, Elyounoussi, Ruud, Jenssen, Braaten, Berisha.

O'Neill's first teamsheet included
recalled duo Dean Shiels and Shane Ferguson, both absent from the
national set-up for the last two years of Nigel Worthington's tenure.

There was also a change at the back,
with Jonny Evans given the chance to establish himself in his preferred
centre-back position in place of Gareth McAuley, who was shifted to
right-back.

David Healy started on the bench but
with 17 minutes left became his country's most capped outfield player –
cap number 92 taking him clear of Mal Donaghy.

Northern Ireland's first attack, in
the second minute, saw full-back Ryan McGivern break down the left and
fire a powerful effort at goal.

Goalkeeper Rune Jarstein reacted well
to tip it over the crossbar only for Shiels to produce a tame header
from the resulting corner.

Holding off: Northern Ireland Dean Shiels battles with Norway's Christian Grindham

Holding off: Northern Ireland Dean Shiels battles with Norway's Christian Grindham

Ferguson was next to try his luck down the left and his deflected cross just evaded Martin Paterson on the six-yard line.

The lively start found the fans in
noticeably better voice than they had been at the end of the Worthington
era, with O'Neill's arrival in the technical area warmly welcomed.

Clingan was using the ball well in
midfield, freeing Ferguson again as a quick Northern Ireland break again
stretched the visiting defence.

Norway were content to counter-attack in the opening 20 minutes, but too often left Mohammed Abdellaoue isolated up front.

New era, same result: Northern Ireland's Steven Davis vies with Norway's Morten Gamst Pedersen

New era, same result: Northern Ireland's Steven Davis vies with Norway's Morten Gamst Pedersen

Northern Ireland endured a nervy
moment after 25 minutes, a weak defensive header from Ferguson handing
Norway a clear opportunity on the right-hand side of the penalty area.

Luckily, it fell to full-back Tom Hogli, who blazed over.

Moments later Northern Ireland had the best chance so far.

Fight for the ball: Ryan McGivern vies with Norway's Valon Berisha for possession

Fight for the ball: Ryan McGivern vies with Norway's Valon Berisha for possession

Ferguson's cross was poorly dealt
with, leading to a frenetic couple of seconds that saw Steven Davis,
Paterson and McAuley all try to force the ball over the line from close
range.

Davis was closest to success, with McAuley's sliced effort ending the danger.

There was a warning for the home side too when Erik Huseklepp worked Camp at the near post.

John Arne Riise twice looked primed for spectacular volleys but made negligible contact with both attempts.

Three and easy: Espen Ruud celebrates scoring Norway's third goal

Three and easy: Espen Ruud celebrates scoring Norway's third goal

Norway did take the lead a minute
before the break when Aaron Hughes half-cleared a corner as far as
Nordtveit, whose low shot beat Camp via the unfortunate Clingan.

O'Neill made two changes at the
interval, Grant McCann on for Corry Evans and Michael Duff ending a
four-year exile in place of Hughes.

McCann was quick to make an
impression, winning the ball in midfield, carrying it 10 yards and
forcing a fingertip save from 25 yards.

At the other end Camp fumbled Riise's near-post effort but was lucky to see Daniel Braaten botch the rebound.

Shoulder to shoulder: Grant McCann keeps the ball away from Norway's Ruben Yttergard Jenssen

Shoulder to shoulder: Grant McCann keeps the ball away from Norway's Ruben Yttergard Jenssen

Shiels was lively in his role linking midfield and attack and his cross on the hour allowed Davis a header at goal.

A clever through ball from McGivern
then found Shiels clear of his man inside the area but a crucial saving
tackle snuffed out the danger.

With a little over 20 minutes remaining, O'Neill turned to winger Paddy McCourt, who came on for the impressive Ferguson.

The Celtic man was watched from the
stands by club boss Neil Lennon, returning to the ground where he was
once barracked by his own fans on international duty.

International bow: Northern Ireland's manager Michael O'Neill and Norway's manager Egil Olsen shake hands

International bow: Northern Ireland's manager Michael O'Neill and Norway's manager Egil Olsen shake hands

McCourt was quick to make an impact too, twice beating his man on the left and sending in testing crosses.

Healy, meanwhile, had been left
waiting long enough for his record-breaking appearance and he was next
off the bench to replace Paterson.

The Rangers striker was unable to mark the occasion with a goal but Norway had time for two more.
Elyounoussi extended the visitors' lead three minutes from time when he
beat Camp at the near post, before Ruud's superb stoppage-time volley
made it 3-0 despite the Nottingham Forest keeper getting a strong hand
to it.

Slovenia 1 Scotland 1: Berra negates Kirm"s opener to hand Levein"s men a draw

Slovenia 1 Scotland 1: Berra negates Kirm's opener to hand Levein's men a draw

Christophe Berra's first-half header gave Scotland a solid if uninspiring draw against Slovenia in their friendly international at the Bonifika stadium.

After James Morrison saw his close-range shot pushed onto the post by home goalkeeper and captain Samir Handanovic, midfielder Andraz Kirm gave Slovenia the lead in the 32nd minute with a header from a Miso Brecko cross.

However, seven minutes later the Scots were back on level terms with a similar goal when Berra buried the ball past Handanovic from Charlie Adam's corner from the left.

More follows.

On target: Berra wheels away

On target: Berra wheels away

MATCH FACTS

Slovenia: Samir Handanovic, Brecko, Suler, Cesar, Jokic, Radosavljevic, Krhin, Kirm, Birsa, Ilicic, Dedic. Subs not used: Jasmin Handanovic, Kelhar, Pecnik, Volas, Ljubijankic, Vuckic, Vrsic, Matic, Mavric, Belec.

Scotland: McGregor, Martin, Berra, Caldwell, Mulgrew, McArthur, Adam, Morrison, Forrest, Mackie, Mackail-Smith. Subs not used: Gilks, Dorrans, Bannan, Robson, Cowie, Goodwillie, Miller, Snodgrass, Hanley, Foster, Gordon.

Referee: Aleksandar Stavrev (FYR Macedonia).

Gary Megson sacked by Sheffield Wednesday despite club sitting third in League One table

Megson sacked by Sheffield Wednesday despite club sitting third in League One table

Sheffield Wednesday have sacked manager Gary Megson after 11 months at the helm at Hillsborough.

Despite winning Sunday's Steel City derby and standing third in League One, the club decided to part ways with the 52-year-old.

Chairman Milan Mandaric said: 'This was a very difficult decision but one that has been taken with the best interests of Sheffield Wednesday at heart.

'We have 13 games to go of what is a critical season for our club and this decision has been taken because I believe we have a better chance of achieving our key aim of promotion by making the change.

Fiery: Megson has words with United counterpart Danny Wilson after Wednesday's 1-0 win on Sunday

Fiery: Megson has words with United counterpart Danny Wilson after Wednesday's 1-0 win on Sunday

'I fully understand this may not be
the most popular decision amongst our supporters but I ask them to trust
me, as they have done so whole heartedly during the time I have been at
the club.

'Whilst we won what was a huge game
last Sunday, I have looked at results before that to reach the
conclusion which I believe is the right one for now and the future of
Sheffield Wednesday.

'I take no decision lightly regarding
this club and this one is no different. One chapter is closed and
another one begins. We must now look forward and I hope to appoint a new
manager as soon as possible to help achieve success for this club.'