Saturday, April 24, 2010

Norway 3, El Salvador 2 - Recap

Upset? No way. Norway played exactly how it needed to stop the El Salvador scoring machine from functioning properly. It was an intense game with hard challenges, plenty of good scoring opportunities and some real standout performances by midfielders. The difference was that El Salvador never even sniffed a goal in the second half because Norway's defense completely shut them down.

Chad Campbell opened the scoring for Norway only a minute into the game after getting a sweet back-post feed from Stefan Husdal. Husdal had all the time in the world to set up the pass because of great hustle and vision from Justin Sawka in the midfield, who managed to find Stefan wide open near the El Salvador net.

Things were quickly tied up when El Salvador's striker Bubba (that's his name right?) picked up a Norway giveaway in the middle and slotted home an easy finish from just inside the box. Bubba scored again about 5 minutes later - outplaying Norway's D and striking home a shot that went through keeper Brett Moore's legs. After that, Norway buckled down, started playing man-to-man on El Salvador's strikers and never gave them any quality chances for the remainder of the game.

Sawka tied it up right before half, smashing home a finish after forcing El Salvaor's centre back to cough up the ball. 2-2 halftime. The second half saw almost no risk-taking from the Norwegian side, just solid defensive play and timid couter-attack attempts. With just under five minutes remaining Josh Gyurek received an outlet pass at half from Brett Moore. Josh played a quick give-and-go with Stefan in the middle, took a touch down the line, crossed the ball in and hit a streaking David Chisolm coming in from the far side of the field. Chisolm one-touched the ball into the back of El Salvador's net and that was the ball game. 3-2 final.

El Salvador's strategy of not subbing key players probably played a role in their loss. Norway was not as fit as El Salvador overall, but fresh players made a huge difference when the El Salvadorians couldn't get any speed going in the late stages of the game. If you've got a bench you might as well use it right.

Well done Norway. Never doubted that the team would shock the tournament with this game. Almost a mirror image of Norway's win over a super-hyped Chilean team in 2008. Plenty of the exact same players on this El Salvador squad.


Anonymous said...

what a disappointment from el salvador they couldnt even get an good free kicks. Some of their players were completely useless

Anonymous said...

I agree some of them looked like they were just plain tired. Makes you think if fatigue is setting in on these guys while playing such a short bench. Even if they get out of their pool with that kind of play style they won't make it too far. I saw nothing of the way that they play as a team, no ball movement, no quick passes, they just forced the ball upfield from the defense to the strikers. I think ES gave this one away, they weren't really outplayed, a different team took the field that day. Don't get me wrong Norway played their asses off and they deserve the win but ES played a really shitty game.