Norway clinch second in group
© AFP

Norway clinched second place in 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifying Group 9 after a dominant 2-1 victory over FYR Macedonia at the Ullevaal Stadium in Oslo.

Thorstein Helstad and John Arne Riise scored the goals that enabled Egil Olsen's side to claim the runners-up spot behind the Netherlands in the standings at the expense of both tonight's visitors and Scotland, who were defeated by the Dutch in their final qualifier.

The result is unlikely to enable Norway to make it into the play-offs, however, with Olsen's side having a qualifying record that could result in them becoming the odd team out when the records of the nine group-stage runners-up bidding for just eight play-off berths are finalised.

The match was only two minutes old when a loose ball in the area fell at the feet of Helstad, who lashed home to hand Norway the lead.

The hosts maintained the pressure and went further ahead after 25 minutes when Riise netted with his third goal from a free-kick in as many international outings.

Macedonia offered little in the way of an attacking threat until the final 11 minutes, when urgency finally gripped the visiting players and they pulled one back.

Boban Grncarov made the breakthrough, hitting his first international goal with a first-time effort into the roof of the net after being set up by Besart Ibraimi, but it was not enough to spark a late fightback and Norway held on.