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2023 UEFA U21 Euro: France Clinches Vital Victory Over Norway to Edge Closer to Knockout Stages

Michael Olise’s goal proved to be the winner as France took a significant step towards the knockout stages.

Michael Olise of France celebrating after he scored a goal during UEFA European Under-21 Championship
Michael Olise (left) celebrating his goal [Credit: NurPhoto]

France held off late pressure from Norway to secure six points out of six in Group D. They now only need at least a point in their final group game to secure top spot. Meanwhile, Norway finds themselves at the bottom of Group D with 0 points, and their chances of progression are slim. It would take a miracle for the Scandinavians to qualify for the quarter-finals.

France created the first scoring opportunity of the match in the 13th minute. Yasser Larouci delivered a cross from the left, and Amine Adli connected with a header towards the goal, but Klaesson comfortably saved it.

Apart from Amine Adli’s header in the 13th minute, the match lacked quality, with both teams adopting a patient approach.

The first half ended without any breakthrough as both teams struggled to create clear-cut chances. Norway hardly tested French goalkeeper Lucas Chevalier, failing to register a single shot on goal. In contrast, France had two shots on target, with one being Amine Adli’s header.

The second half saw France start aggressively in search of a goal, while Norway adopted a defensive approach, hoping to catch the French on the counter.

In the 57th minute, France finally broke the deadlock with Crystal Palace winger Michael Olise scoring a simple tap-in to give his side the lead. Norway lost possession cheaply, which was intercepted by Larouci. He passed the ball to Enzo Le Fee, who then released Adli down the left-hand side. Adli delivered a low cross into the box, where Kalimuendo missed his touch, but the ball fell to Olise, who had the easiest of tap-ins to find the back of the net.

French substitutes Amine Gouiri and Rayan Cherki had attempts on goal, but Klaesson saved both.

In the last ten minutes, Norway threw everything at France to keep their slim hopes of qualification alive. Leo Hjelde and Sebastian Sebulonsen tested French goalkeeper Lucas Chavalier.

In the closing minutes, Sylvain Ripoll’s side had two golden opportunities on the counter-attack to seal the game, but Wahi and Gouiri failed to convert their chances.

Joris Chotard and Castello Lukeba made crucial blocks late in the game to deny Norway the equalizer they desperately needed. These chances proved to be the last as France held on to secure another victory and take a huge step towards qualifying for the knockout stages of the tournament.

France’s final group game is against Switzerland, knowing that a single point will be enough for them to progress to the quarter-finals and secure the top spot. Norway, on the other hand, must defeat Italy and rely on France defeating Switzerland to have any chance of qualification.

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