* Portugal lack creativity in absence of Ronaldo
* Norway top group after two matches
By Wojciech Moskwa,
OSLO, Sept 7 Portugal's Euro 2012 qualifying
campaign went from bad to worse on Tuesday when they suffered a
1-0 defeat away to Norway.
Portugal, held to a frantic 4-4 draw at home to Cyprus in
their Group H opener, fell behind in Oslo when Erik Huseklepp
put the ball into an empty net after John Carew had blocked a
clearance by Portuguese goalie Eduardo.
Missing the injured Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal could not
find the creativity needed to break through a stubborn Norway
defence, anchored by Brede Hangeland.
Norway, who failed to qualify for the 2008 European
championships or this year's World Cup, top Group H with six
points from two games. Portugal are stuck on one point after two
"We won a great defensive battle," coach Egil Olsen said.
"The win was not entirely undeserved if you ask me, we didn't
create much but had good control in the back."
Norway, who beat Iceland 2-1 last week, tightly marked
Manchester United's fleet-footed winger Nani, limiting Portugal
to shots from long range for much of the match.
Desperate for an equaliser, Portugal left their defence more
exposed in the second half and Norway could have added a second
goal from Mohammed Abdellaoue, who shot wide from about eight
Portugal interim coach Agostinho Oliveira said his depleted
team had the game under control until the defensive mistake.
Oliveira is standing in for the suspended Carlos Queiroz who
has been banned for six months for insulting anti-doping agents
before the World Cup.
"Norway is an outsider, normally Portugal and Denmark would
be the strongest teams. We have six games left and we can still
qualify," Oliveira told reporters.
(Additional reporting by Ole Petter Skonnord)