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Norway come from behind to beat ten-man Russia

Thursday 7 February 2013 21.40 CET
Norway beat France in the play-offs to reach this summer's Under-21 final tournament

Norway won 2-1 against fellow UEFA European Under-21 Championship final tournament contenders Russia in a friendly played in La Manga, Spain.

Russia fielded a slightly under-strength XI due to a mixture of injuries and senior call-ups, but nevertheless went in front through Shota Bibilov after just eight minutes. Valon Berisha soon drew Norway level, however, and Marcus Pedersen secured victory after the dismissal of Russia's Pavel Yakovlev.

Nikolai Pisarev's side, who are drawn alongside Germany, Netherlands and Spain in Group B of this summer's event in Israel, took the lead when Bibilov spotted a hole in the wall from a free-kick. Their opponents, in Group A together with England, Italy and the hosts, restored parity on 25 minutes courtesy of Berisha's solo run and finish.

Russia's night took another turn for the worse moments before the half-hour as captain Yakovlev was shown a straight red card. It looked an uphill struggle for Russia thereafter and Tor Ole Skullerud's team duly went in front just before half-time, Berisha surging into the penalty area and passing to Pedersen, who scored with a powerful first-time finish.

Both coaches made plenty of changes after the interval, with Norway successfully sealing the victory which takes them through to face Turkey in the final of the Challenge Cup.

Norway: Østbø (Nyland Haskjold 46); Rogne (Furu 75), Skjelvik, Linnes; Svensson, Singh (Hussain 79), Berget, Berisha (Keita 54), Larsen (Møller Dæhli 60); Pedersen, Semb Berge.

Russia: Zabolotni (Kritsuk 46); Tsallagov, Zhestokov, Chicherin (Semenov 62), Nikitin; Bibilov, Petrov, Zotov (Netfullin 83), Yakovlev; Cheryshev (Bezlikhotnov 52), Kanunnikov (Kirillov 70).

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