Football: Fast start for Northern Ireland against Norway keeps them in World Cup contention

Northern Ireland's striker Jamie Ward celebrates after scoring the opening goal of the World Cup 2018 qualification football match between Northern Ireland and Norway.
Northern Ireland's striker Jamie Ward celebrates after scoring the opening goal of the World Cup 2018 qualification football match between Northern Ireland and Norway.PHOTO: AFP

BELFAST (REUTERS) - Jamie Ward took just 90 seconds to score and set Northern Ireland on their way to a 2-0 home win over Norway in their World Cup qualifier at Windsor Park on Sunday (March 26) to keep the home side in contention for Russia next year.

Conor Washington scored the other goal in the 33rd minute as Northern Ireland moved up to 10 points in Group C, second behind Germany and ahead of the Czech Republic, who had both won earlier on Sunday.

Ward curled in a shot from close range for a perfect start and Washington beat the offside trap to double the score not long after Alexander Soderlund had rattled the crossbar for Norway, who have now lost four of their opening five qualifiers.

It was a disappointing debut for new Norway coach Lars Lagerback, who took Iceland through a fairytale performance at last year's European Championship in France.