Norway no match for reigning champs Germany

Norway's attempt to qualify for a first major tournament since Euro 2000 is off to a rough start.

Norway no match for reigning champs Germany
Germany's Thomas Muller (R) and Norway's Haitam Aleesami in action during their match in Oslo. Photo: NTB Scanpix
Bayern Munich team-mates Thomas Mueller and Joshua Kimmich fired title-holders Germany to a commanding 3-0 win away to Norway in their opening 2018 World Cup qualifier on Sunday.
Mueller struck in the 16th minute at the Ullevaal Stadion in Oslo before Kimmich netted Germany's second goal on the stroke of half-time.
Mueller then scored again on the hour to ensure a winning start for Joachim Loew's team in Group C as the world champions set off on the road to the finals in Russia.
Germany top the group after the opening round of matches, with Azerbaijan also claiming a 1-0 victory against San Marino and Northern Ireland holding Czech Republic to a 0-0 draw.
“We can always find things to improve, but generally speaking, we were on the right track tonight,” Mueller told RTL Television. “We're very happy, even if there is room for improvement.”
Loew added: “I think we played a good match, we dominated our opponents. Norway weren't at their best tonight, they never got into the match but that's also because we played well.”
The four-time world champions are trying to become the first European team since Italy in 1938 to retain the trophy, and the visitors quickly took the game to Per-Mathias Hogmo's Norway.
Benedikt Hoewedes found himself in an advanced position inside the Norwegian box and Mueller's cutback picked out the Schalke centre-back who forced Rune Jarstein to make an excellent save with his legs.
Mueller shines
But Mueller edged the Germans ahead on the quarter-hour as the Bayern forward, having fluffed his first attempt, reacted quickest amid a chaotic scramble to shoot beyond Jarstein, the Norway goalkeeper unable to keep the ball out as it squirmed inside the far post.
Kimmich nearly doubled the lead almost immediately as he escaped behind the defence and struck firmly at Jarstein, but Norway should have equalised on 24 minutes when Josh King rifled narrowly over rather than playing in an unmarked Veton Berisha.
While Neuer, in his first game since taking over as full-time captain following the international retirement of Bastian Schweinsteiger, was largely untroubled, his opposite number Jarstein tried his best to keep Norway in the match.
The Hertha Berlin keeper raced off his line to claw the ball away from Julian Draxler as Germany continued to look dangerous, but Loew's side grabbed a deserved second before the break as Mueller's deft touch released Kimmich to drill a superb low strike into the corner.
Norway couldn't have asked for a much tougher test as they seek to qualify for a first major tournament since Euro 2000, and their hosts took another hit as Mueller headed Sami Khedira's cross past Jarstein early in the second half.
Mueller failed to score even once during Germany's run to the Euro 2016 semi-finals, but the 27-year old rediscovered his best form in Oslo as he increased his international goals tally to 34.
Loew has vowed to blood the country's next generation as part of their World Cup preparations and 20-year-old Julian Brandt, the Bayer Leverkusen winger, went close to grabbing his first senior Germany goal after coming on as a substitute.


Nordic countries to launch joint bid to host 2027 World Cup

Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland want to jointly host the FIFA Women's World Cup in 2027.

Nordic countries to launch joint bid to host 2027 World Cup
Sweden players during this year's World Cup in France. Photo: Jean-Paul Pelissier/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

The five Nordic nations want to share hosting duties for the 2027 edition of the World Cup finals and are to present the idea to the Nordic Council at a meeting in Stockholm on Tuesday, Danish football association DBU has confirmed.

FIFA is already positively disposed to joint bids for future finals tournaments, which has lent encouragement to the Nordic project, according to DBU's chairman Jesper Møller.

“We can see that support for women's football is here to stay, most recently at the (2019) World Cup in France, where matches were played in front of full stadiums and television viewers' interest was huge,” Møller said.

“A joint Nordic World Cup would not only ensure a fantastic experience for many football fans but will also strengthen important Nordic partnerships and community, and hopefully inspire many football-keen women and girls,” he continued.

“That's why support from the Nordic Council is important,” he added.

The Nordic Council (Nordisk Råd) is the official body for inter-parliamentary co-operation among the five Nordic countries and three territories of the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and the Åland Islands.

DBU is also looking into the possibility of hosting the 2025 European Championships in Denmark.