Nations League round-up: Norway reign supreme in C3.


Norway ran out winners of Group C3 having only conceded two goals throughout and losing just once.

Slovenia failed to win a single match during their Nations League campaign, drawing their final three games.

Norway opened the group with a 2-0 win over Cyprus. Captain Stefan Johansen’s double sank the away side and extended the nation’s record of beating the island in all ten matches that they’ve ever played.

Johansen’s first came after he was first to run onto a loose ball in the opposition half while his second was a beautifully dipped free-kick on the edge of the box.

Elsewhere, despite dominating the play, Slovenia lost their opener 2-1 against Bulgaria at the Stadion Stožice in Ljubljana. Midtjylland winger Bozhidar Kraev gave the away side the lead in the third minute as his effort from outside the box stunned Vid Belec in the Slovenian net.

This was cancelled out by Slovenian midfielder Miha Zajc’s header before the game was won by Kraev in the 59th minute as he turned the ball into the back of the net after Belec failed to hold onto the ball.

Bulgaria hosted Norway in the next match which saw the hosts beat the eventual group winners 1-0. Sofia-born Radoslav Vasilev got the only goal in the game when his headed effort bounced in off the post. The night got worse for Norway when former West Ham United man Håvard Nordtveit received a second yellow card for a high challenge.

Bulgaria were the only team to defeat Norway in the group (photo credit: Novinite).

Cyprus won their first match beating Slovenia 2-1 after coming from behind to their rivals in Nicosia courtesy of an own goal.

Robert Berić gave Slovenia the lead early in the second half against the run of play. He rose highest to meet the ball and his powerful header beat Constantinos Panagi in the Cyprus net.

Pieros Sotiriou got the equaliser for the hosts as he side-footed his team back into the match in the 69th minute while Petar Stojanović disastrously headed the ball into his own net crushing his side’s chances with one-minute left.

Slovenia failed to win yet again when they travelled to Oslo. Ole Selnæs grabbed the only goal of the game in the fifth minute of stoppage time in the first half allowing Norway to pick up a vital 1-0 victory.

Ivelin Popov was the hero in Sofia as his two assists were vital in Bulgaria overturning a one-goal deficit into a win as they beat Cyprus 2-1.

Grigoris Kastanos turned in Andreas Avraam’s cross to give the away side the lead before the break but Kiril Despodov headed the hosts back into the game before Todor Nedelev volleyed Bulgaria’s winner in the 68th minute.

Norway managed to get revenge against Bulgaria in Oslo beating their promotion rivals and going ahead of them on goal difference after winning 1-0.

Southampton winger Mohamed Elyounoussi got the only goal in the game as he tapped in Omar Elabdellaoui’s pass in a game that was a tightly fought affair.

The Slovenians managed to get their first point of the competition, drawing 1-1 with Cyprus in Ljubljana in a feisty encounter that saw three players dismissed.

Fotis Papoulis gave the away outfit a surprising lead as he comfortably beat Belec in the Slovenia net. Nejc Skubic would volley his side back into the game nicking a point but the real talking points were in the cards flashed.

Cyprus had Kastanos get sent off in the 66th minute before Slovenian attacker Josip Iličić was given his marching orders towards the end of the game. Southend United player Jason Demetriou was the final player to be sent off getting red carded in the sixth minute of added time.

Ran Ben Shimon’s Cyprus team then drew against Bulgaria after Konstantinos Laifis gave away a penalty late in the game which saw the sides draw 1-1.

Panagiotis Zachariou gave the hosts the lead in the first half when he beat Georgi Petkov in the Bulgaria goal from just inside the box. With a minute to spare Popov got knocked down in the box and Nikolay Dimitrov scored from the spot.

That goal gave the away side hope and meant they remained behind Norway only on goal difference.

Another stalemate occurred as Slovenia took another point, this time off group leaders Norway. The game finished 1-1 after a late equaliser from the Norwegians, which saw Slovenia relegated.

Benjamin Verbič gave the hosts the lead with a stylish finish from inside the box early in the first half, his side defended fantastically but dropped off at the end. Slovenia paid the ultimate price when Norway attacker Bjørn Johnsen headed the ball into the back of the net.

Bulgaria ended the campaign with a 1-1 draw against Slovenia. Galin Ivanov gave the hosts the lead with his diving header in the 68th minute but the advantage wouldn’t last long as Miha Zajc levelled the game much to the frustration of the hosts.

Norway ended their final match confirming promotion beating Cyprus 2-0 in Nicosia. In a game where both sides saw red.

Ola Kamara scored both the goals in the match as Norway controlled and won the game comfortably allowing only one shot on target from the hosts.

Cyprus defender Valentinos Sielis was given his marching orders with ten minutes to go while Norway’s Elyounoussi was off in the 90th minute.


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