Republic of Ireland 1 Norway 2.
CORK'S Alan Browne scored the fifth goal of his international career but it wasn’t enough to prevent the Republic of Ireland from falling to a 2-1 friendly defeat against Norway at the Aviva Stadium on Thursday night.
The former Ringmahon Rangers midfielder drilled an unstoppable effort from distance into the bottom corner in the second half but a late Ohi Omoijuanfo finish ensured Ireland’s final home game of the year ended in disappointment.
Of the four Corkonians in the squad, only Browne and John Egan started the game with the latter also captaining the side while Chiedozie Ogbene and Caoimhin Kelleher took their place on the substitutes bench.
While some of the younger fans making up the 41,120 crowd may have been disappointed by the absence of Norway striker Erling Haaland, who has scored 14 goals in his last 11 international appearances, it did increase the Boys in Green’s chances of getting a positive result from their final home match of 2022.
Given the timing of this friendly - just three days before the start of the World Cup in Qatar - and the nature of this friendly - both teams only getting the opportunity to meet because they missed out on the World Cup - it came as no surprise that this wasn’t the most enthralling of encounters.
But that should reflect poorly on Ireland more than the visitors, who at least carried a threat on a number of occasions in the first half.
The only sight at goal the hosts, who are now building towards the European Championship qualification campaign in 2023, created in the first 45 was Callum Robinson’s strike from long-range which sailed harmlessly over the target.
The Norwegians went close to scoring midway through the half but Patrick Berg volleyed over the excellent Martin Odegaard’s cross following a clever short corner before Mohammed Elyounussi looked to be through on goal but delayed his shot and allowed the defence to recover.
But they would break the deadlock moments before the halftime break when Leo Ostigard broke away from Egan before heading Odegaard's delivery into the far bottom-right corner.
Ireland finally upped the tempo at the beginning of the second period and both Egan and Browne went close to scoring an equaliser but after the Bishopstown man stabbed Robinson’s cross wide of the near post, the Mahon native’s strike was smothered by the keeper.
But Browne would grab a leveller in the 69th minute and in some style as after good work down the left by O’Dowda, he controlled a clearance to the edge of the box before expertly drilling his half volley into the bottom left corner.
But despite the Republic looking the most likely to find a winner, it was Norway who got it late on when Omoijuanfo slotted the ball home after it broke kindly to him in the box.
Bazunu, Doherty, O’Shea, Egan, Cullen, Robinson, Browne (Ferguson 88), Obafemi (Ogbene 75), Collins, Molumby (Hendrick 82), O’Dowda (Brady 75).
Nyland, Thorsby (Brynhildsen 75), Strandberg, Berg (Gregersen 93), Odegaard, Elyounoussi, Ostigard, Solbakken (Zachariassen 63), Bjorkan (Meling 65), Pedersen (Ryerson 65), Larsen (Ohi Omoijuanfo 75).
Allard Lindhout (Netherlands).