BUDAPEST: Hungary secured a spot at next year’s European Championship by beating Norway 2-1 Sunday, ending a 30-year absence from major tournaments.
Tamas Priskin scored early and Norway’s Ole Selnes netted an own-goal in the 84th minute as Hungary reached its first major competition since the 1986 World Cup with a 3-1 aggregate victory. It last played in the Euros in 1972.
Priskin scored in the 14th minute, deftly controlling a long pass from Tamas Kadar before eluding a pair of defenders and shooting into the upper left corner, out of reach for Norway goalkeeper Orjan Nyland.
Markus Henriksen pulled one back in the 87th but it was a mere consolation for Norway, which lost 1-0 in Oslo on Thursday.
“It was a fantastic performance,” said Hungary coach Bernd Storck, whose lineup included several players who don’t get much playing time with their club teams. “I told them to play with confidence, play without fear and you will have success.”
Storck’s biggest gamble, which paid off fabulously, had been starting Laszlo Kleinheisler in the first leg. The striker, who has been relegated to Videoton’s reserve squad because of a contract dispute, rewarded his coach’s confidence and had the only goal of the match in his debut.
Norway coach Per-Mathias Hogmo said failing to score at home complicated his team’s chances in Budapest, as they were forced into an attacking game from the start.
“Hungary was better than us during two games,” Hogmo said. “I’m very disappointed we didn’t come up to a better level.”
Norway dominated possession in the first half but, similarly to the first leg, rarely troubled Hungary goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly, whose 101st match tied with Golden Team legend Jozsef Bozsik for most on the national team.
Kiraly’s biggest challenge was a shot from close range by Haitam Aleesami in the 27th minute which the goalkeeper blocked with his body.
Even Hovland nearly tied the match in the 45th minute, but his header hit the left goalpost.
An individual effort by Hungary captain Balazs Dzsudzsak in the 58th almost made it 2-0 but his shot from 15 meters hit the crossbar after a deflection off Aleesami, while Nyland had to stretch to the max to save the Hungarian’s low kick from the edge of the penalty area in the 71st.
Hungary played more aggressively in the second half and had several chances to increase the lead, including a shot by Gergo Lovrencsics in the 66th from the right side which hit the side netting.
A minute’s silence was held before the start of the match in commemoration of Marton Fulop and Pal Varhidi, two former members of the national team who died Thursday, and the victims of the terror attacks in Paris.
Norway was trying to reach the Euros for the first time since 2000.