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BBC Five Live's Jon Roder
reports from the Millenium Stadium
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banner Saturday, 7 October, 2000, 15:49 GMT 16:49 UK
Wales denied by late equaliser
Blake (centre) is swamped by team-mates after his powerful headed goal
Blake (centre) is swamped by team-mates after his powerful headed goal
World Cup qualifying group five
Wales 1-1 Norway

Norway silenced a buoyant Millennium Stadium crowd with a messy goal ten minutes from time to cancel out Nathan Blake's bullet header.

Welsh keeper Paul Jones could only parry an Oyvind Leonhardsen shot into the path of substitute Thorstein Helstad and the ball cannoned in off his shins from five yards out.

Helstad then careered into the post and had to be helped from the field, although he was dazed rather than seriously hurt.

Wales had a John Hartson goal questionably disallowed for offside after 40 minutes of the match, but took a deserved lead through Blake on the hour.

The Blackburn striker powered a header past keeper Frode Olsen from the edge of the Norway area after a cross from Gary Speed on the left.

Chants of 'Ole!'

Norway's goal came against the run of play with a partisan home crowd breaking into chants of "Ole!" as Wales passed confidently.

The defence looked strong and Ryan Giggs and Mark Delaney impressive on the break, but it was ultimately defensive hesitancy that let in Helstad.

On a pitch resembling a scrabble board thanks to the Millennium Stadium's removable grass pallets, a swift passing game was never an option.

Both sides relied appropriately on long balls in the first half and it was Norway who came closest to scoring.


Wales were indebted to keeper Jones, who made two fantastic saves.

The first came from point-blank range on 20 minutes after Ronnie Johnsen headed an Erik Mykland corner into the ground only for Jones to flip it over acrobatically.

The second was even more impressive and gave Wales the impetus to plough upfield - a close-range snap-shot from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer who had initially been blocked by a flying Robert Page.

But Jones' weak parry ironically handed Norway their goal later in the game.

Met emphatically

Norway also created the best chance of the first half as Solskjaer headed over from eight yards out on the half hour.

That said it was Wales who found the net just before the interval, courtesy of Hartson's disallowed goal.

A brilliant run by Giggs down the right flank confused Norway's Stig-Inge Bjornebye and the Manchester United star's cross was met emphatically by Hartson's head.

The Welsh roar subsided when the linesman called offside - agony for the Wimbledon striker as Hartson had cleverly eluded Henning Berg.

It was Giggs' first run at the Norwegian defence and it had a telling result. Wales had previously relied on knock-downs from the towering Hartson.

Expectation shattered

The second half was a different story as Wales at last released Giggs on a more regular basis and Page and Andrew Melville grew in authority at the back.

Giggs broke into the Norwegian area on 55 minutes, but with Berg at his mercy could only flip a weak pass onto the defender's legs to gain a corner.

Once Blake had scored, Welsh confidence grew, but the growing chance of an unexpected win was shattered by Helstad's brave, literally post-shaking effort.


Wales:N Blake 60

Norway:Helstad 80

Wales: P. Jones, Delaney, Page, Melville, C. Coleman, Savage, J. Robinson, Hartson, Blake, Speed, Giggs. Subs: M. Jones, I. Roberts, Symons, Barnard, C. Robinson, Freestone.

Norway: Olsen, Basma, Johnsen, Berg, Bjornebye, Iversen, Mykland, Leonhardsen, E. Bakke, Solskjaer, Strand. Subs: M. Bakke, Bragstad, Flo, Hoftun, Skammelsrud, Riseth, Helstad.

Referee:Hartmut Strampe (Germany)

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See also:

05 Oct 00 |  World Cup 2002
Cap would ease Hartson's anguish
05 Oct 00 |  World Cup 2002
Bakke to give Jones rough ride
05 Oct 00 |  Wales
Welsh U21s fail again
03 Oct 00 |  Wales
Delaney eyes up Wales recall
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