Ada Hegerberg has joked that she is ‘saving her goals for England’, after failing to net in Norway’s 4-1 tournament-opening win over Northern Ireland on Thursday night.
Hegerberg’s side are among the favourites to win Euro 2022 and they made light work of their opponents at St Mary’s, racing into a three-goal lead inside half an hour.
Julie Nelson did pull one back for Northern Ireland, whose squad was predominantly part-time until January, before Guro Reiten’s free kick restored Norway’s advantage.
The game was Hegerberg’s first in a major tournament since the 2015 World Cup as she went into a self-imposed exile in protest of conditions for the squad for several years. Speaking after the game, the Lyon forward – who was part of the Norway side that reach the Euro 2013 final – admitted that it felt good to return to the continental stage.
“It’s nice to be back. There was a lot of excitement around this game as there always is with the first game of a tournament. It’s always special around the city,” she said.
Hegerberg was also quick to credit her teammates with four different Norwegian players – Julie Blakstad, Frida Maanum, Caroline Graham Hansen and Reiten – all getting on the scoresheet.
When posed whether the media’s focus on her return might have deflected from the talent of the Norway squad overall, Hegerberg replied: “I don’t think I can say it any differently. But I can’t control what the others say can I? I’ve dealt with that for so many years now and that’s what keeps me going.”
Next up for Norway is a trip to Brighton to take on hosts England and after failing to score in her side’s opening game – she missed several good chances and had a penalty appeal turned down – Hegerberg vowed to return with a vengeance on Monday.
“Definitely, definitely!” she responded when asked whether she was saving her best for the Lionesses.