Prediction: 5-0 for Norway.
Another game, another ugly win for Norway in the 2011 WCP Cup. On Wednesday night Norway managed to beat Serbia 3-2, and when I say managed I mean it in the most boring and head-scratching way possible. Norway was clearly the more skilled of the two teams, and yet bad mistakes, missed chances and an overall lack of cohesiveness kept Serbia in it for the full 50 minutes.
Norway came out with slightly more urgency than it had against England in the first game, but that's like saying a turtle is slightly faster than a snail. Norway had some early quality chances that ultimately went nowhere as a pass was missed or a shot flubbed. Then, about 10 minutes in, Serbia sailed a kick-in over the hands of Norway's keeper and into the far corner of the net. Two minutes later it was 2-0 for Serbia after a terrible giveaway in the middle of the field let Serbia's striker walk in, pick his corner, count to five, and methodically slide home a shot into the corner.
And finally Norway woke up. There's nothing quite like being down 2-0 to an inferior team to light a fire under your butt. With about 10 minutes remaining in the first half, Grant Wirth cut in from the left side and found striker Josh Gyurek in the box. Gyurek managed an off-balance shot that handcuffed the Serbian keeper, and Wirth, who had continued his run in, managed to pot the easy rebound. 2-1 for Serbia.
Norway kept up pressure for the remainder of the half but no goals. To start the second half, Norway began to play its high pressure defense which should be a staple against most teams. The results paid off immediately. Justin Sawka picked off a pass in the middle of the field, beat one man and ripped a low left-footer towards the middle of the net. Justin Slinn was standing right where the ball was going and coolly opened up and redirected the shot past the helpless Serbian keeper.
With about 10 minutes to go, Grant Wirth got his second of the game when he forced the Serbian left back into passing the ball to the middle of his own box, right to Gyurek. Josh shot and once again the rebound came right to Wirth's feet where he calmly put it in. 3-2 Norway. The rest of the game saw a little pressure from both teams, but nothing all that noteworthy. I'll be the first to call it a snoozer and I played. A win is a win and Norway is 2-0.