Norway denied despite victory

Norway must turn their attentions to the future after failing to perform the miracle that would have given them a chance of UEFA EURO 2012 qualification, despite beating Cyprus 3-1.

Egil Olsen's men kicked off knowing that only a win and defeat for Portugal in Denmark, as well as a nine-goal swing between the two, would allow them to make the play-offs.

And while that was never really a realistic option, quick first-half goals from Morten Gamst Pedersen and John Carew - combined with Denmark going ahead - meant there was a glimmer of hope.

But Yiannis Okkas pulled one back for Cyprus and, although Tom Hoglie restored Norway's two-goal cushion, the floodgates never opened and veteran coach Olsen was left to reflect on a failed campaign.

Olsen had admitted in the build-up that qualification was impossible and that his country should start to plan for the 2014 FIFA World Cup™, but considering they still had a chance at kick-off, their start to the game was surprisingly laboured.

Pedersen breaks deadlock
With goals a must, it took them until the 18th minute to get an effort on target - Kjetil Waehler working Tasos Kissas from the edge of the box.

Carew then tried to make an impact, working the goalkeeper from 12 yards, before he forced Kissas into a flying save when he got his head to Hogli's cross. John Arne Riise's subsequent corner was vicious and Kissas had to claw it over his bar, and the next delivery saw Carew work the keeper again with another header.

The pressure on the Cyprus goal was intense now and unsurprisingly it told in the 25th minute. Espen Ruud's corner found Pedersen and he headed in his 16th international goal.

One quickly became two, with Carew finally finding his range with his head, converting Hogli's cross for a 24th goal for his country, moving him clear in fourth on Norway's all-time list.

Okkas threw a spanner in the works for Norway four minutes before half-time, though, pulling a goal back when he took aim from just inside the area. It was Okkas' 26th goal for Cyprus, taking him to within six of the national record.

Not enough for Norway
Pedersen did not emerge for the second half due to injury, and Cyprus nearly levelled in the 50th minute when Sinisa Dobrasinovic's shot was scrambled clear by Hogli. Andreas Avraam then worked Rune Almenning Jars as it became clear Norway's slim hopes were slipping away.

Okkas could also have levelled, but as news of Portugal going two behind filtered through, Olsen's men got a second wind. Erik Huseklepp slipped a pass through to Hogli, and he did the rest, netting his maiden international goal.

The game became manic after that, with Anthos Solomou and Christian Grindheim trading long-range efforts, before Kissas again excelled as he scrambled to keep out Carew and Huseklepp.

Huseklepp was involved again soon after, teeing up Jonathan Parr, whose effort was blocked by Giorgis Merkis. But the game was up for Norway, and they ran out of both ideas and time.