Norway still 'favourites'

Above: Marton Fulop, the former Hungary goalkeeper, who died of cancer at the age of 32 on the day the national side beat Norway 1-0. Right: Hungary midfielder Laszlo Kleinheisler (No. 15) after scoring the only goal of the Euro 2016 qualifier agains
Hungary midfielder Laszlo Kleinheisler (No. 15) after scoring the only goal of the Euro 2016 qualifier against Norway in Budapest.PHOTO: REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Above: Marton Fulop, the former Hungary goalkeeper, who died of cancer at the age of 32 on the day the national side beat Norway 1-0. Right: Hungary midfielder Laszlo Kleinheisler (No. 15) after scoring the only goal of the Euro 2016 qualifier agains
Marton Fulop, the former Hungary goalkeeper, who died of cancer at the age of 32 on the day the national side beat Norway 1-0. PHOTO: REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Victorious Hungary on brink of Euro 2016 but coach wary of opponents' talent in return leg

OSLO • Hungary head coach Bernd Storck insisted that Norway have a better chance of qualifying for Euro 2016, even though his side won the first leg of their play-off away 1-0 on Thursday.

"Norway are still the favourites. Norway have very good players," he said after Hungary edged closer to their first international football tournament in 30 years.

"We need to play like we did today (in the second leg), or we will have problems."

On the day that Hungarian international goalkeeper Marton Fulop lost his battle with cancer at 32, his team-mates honoured his memory with a crucial victory ahead of tomorrow's return in Budapest.

Midfielder Laszlo Kleinheisler marked his international debut with the game's only goal in the first half before Hungary soaked up constant pressure from the home side to preserve their advantage.

Norway were denied two second-half penalties for fouls on Omar Elabdellaoui, and manager Per-Mathias Hogmo expressed his dissatisfaction with English referee Mark Clattenburg.

The official booked the defender for diving for the second incident and turned down an even stronger call for the first, when Elabdellaoui went down after having his shirt pulled.

"Clearly a penalty. Crystal clear," Hogmo told reporters.

"It's remarkable that an experienced referee didn't see it."

The defeat was Norway's first by Hungary since 1981 and highlighted their inability to score, having managed only 13 goals during a qualifying campaign in which midfielder Alexander Tettey was their top scorer with three goals.

Substitute Pal Andre Helland came close to equalising late on but his header hit the bar as Hungary's veteran goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly celebrated his 100th cap with a clean sheet.

"Unfortunately, we are not sharp enough in the box," added Hogmo, whose side had 15 corners, while Hungary did not have a single one.

"I told the players to be offensive, and we are really looking forward to going to Hungary.

"I told the players: Let this match motivate you for what you are in for in three days' time."

Hungary - whose last major event was the 1986 World Cup in Mexico - will be without experienced midfielder Zoltan Gera for the return game tomorrow after the player - capped 85 times - picked up a yellow card.

Norway's last major tournament was Euro 2000.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 14, 2015, with the headline 'NORWAY STILL 'FAVOURITES''. Print Edition | Subscribe