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Day 3: Caroline Graham Hansen. That is all.
On the third day of my Euro’s newsletter, my true love gave to me, three different nutmegs and a partridge in a pear tree.
It just about scans and yes, my true love is Caroline Graham Hansen.
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Norway rollicked to a comfortable 4-1 win over lowest-ranked side Northern Ireland last night in the other match up from Group A. The Norwegians were 2-0 up after only 13 minutes and it looked like it could get brutal but Northern Ireland managed at least to get a consolation goal, as well as conceding only two more.
Norway’s outrageous set of attacking talents is the first thing that jumps out at you when you look at their team and so it proved last night, with Caroline Graham Hansen stealing the show.
Early on in the match, Hansen drifted from her central role she plays for Norway out to the right hand side. At Barcelona, she can justifiably call herself the best right-winger in the world, so it should not really have been a surprise as to what happened next, but it was spectacular.
Having received the ball just beyond the halfway line, she calmly advanced towards the closest Northern Ireland player to her before sliding the ball through her legs as if she was not even there. As another defender pulled across to try and collect the rolling ball, Hansen skipped through and played it beyond her outstretched foot. By now at the edge of the penalty area, she brushed aside the original defender before nutmegging the second defender again and crossing in.
In full flow, it honestly looked like Hansen had ascended to a different level of footballing ability. It was the stuff of video games, of cheat codes, but instead it was a real player gliding past opponents as if she had the ball on a string
If Hansen brought the sparkle, Guro Reiten did not want to be out done. With a goal and an assist, and a whole host of ridiculous passes in between, if anything the Norwegian attack looked better in reality than it did on paper. When Ada Hegerberg looks like the bit part player in an attack, opponents should be worried. Caroline Graham Hansen understandably picked up the ‘Player of the Match’ award, but if Norway can go far in the competition, Reiten really looks like she’s in the kind of form to get a ‘Player of the Tournament’ nod.
But Norway did still look very open in transition, whilst the corner Northern Ireland scored from was defensive disorganisation at its finest. It seems reasonable to assume that Norway allowed themselves to be more bold going forward because they did not see Northern Ireland as a threat going forward. But when you are playing full backs at centre back and a winger at left back, some of that openness is going to be built into the team. Right now, It feels inevitable that when Norway play, there will be a lot of threat at both ends, which makes the meeting with England on Monday look particularly tantalising.
That now leaves Group A looking like this:
Tonight Group B kicks off with Spain playing Finland at 17:00 BST and Germany facing Denmark at 20:00 BST.