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Norway frozen out in Moldova

Wednesday, 30 March 2005

[1] Norway missed their chance to narrow the gap on Group 5 leaders Italy to two points on Wednesday when they were held to a goalless draw by Moldova in Chisinau.

Norway slip

[2] Consecutive victories against Scotland and Slovenia had rekindled Norway's hopes of reaching next summer's FIFA World Cup finals in Germany after a slow start to their qualifying campaign. But as the snow fell at the Republika stadium, bottom side Moldova belied their lowly position to claim only their second point and put the pressure back on Åge Hareide's side.

Iversen header

[3] From the opening whistle it became apparent both sides would struggle against the elements, but Norway, keen to close the gap on Italy, put the pressure on their opponents with some early chances. A dangerous corner after 12 minutes found Steffen Iversen in the area, but the Norwegian striker's flicked header caused little trouble for Moldovan goalkeeper Eugen Hmaruc.

Dadu chances

[4] Moldova fought back as the half went on and Thomas Myhre looked less than convincing when dealing with a free-kick from Serguei Dadu after 22 minutes. And ten minutes later, the home side almost took the lead when Dadu chased down a long through-ball, forcing Myhre to sprint off his line to knock the ball away from the feet of the FC Alania Vladikavkaz striker.

Moldova pressure

[5] Moldova increased the tempo after the interval and on 54 minutes an underhit back-pass from John Arne Riise nearly let in Dadu, but Myhre once more threw himself bravely at the forward's feet. Just two minutes after that, Serghei Rogaciov got the better of Erik Hagen in an aerial dual, but an alert Myhre did well to save the resulting header. Dadu continued to pose a threat with a 20-metre effort which whizzed past the post, before Stanislav Ivanov sent a header wide.

Hmaruc save

[6] Norway had been on the backfoot for most of the second half, but came close to sneaking a late winner. However, Hmaruc pulled off a stunning save to keep out Iversen's free-kick and preserve a well-earned point for his side. The result leaves Norway four points adrift of leaders Italy, who they meet in Oslo in their next match on 4 June. Moldova are away to Scotland that same day.

Norway's Claus Lundekvam outjumps Serguei Dadu of Moldova