COVID-hit Ireland draw with Wales, Haaland nets Norway hat-trick

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(Reuters) - Ireland hung on for a gritty 0-0 draw at home to Wales in their UEFA Nations League B Group 4 game in Dublin on Sunday and Erling Haaland hit a superb hat-trick as Norway hammered Romania 4-0 in Oslo in Group 1.

The Irish had to overcome the loss of seven players to COVID-19 precautions as forwards Adam Idah and Aaron Connolly were already excluded, and an unnamed player who tested positive for the virus and four more who were deemed to be close contacts were also stood down.

With the sides evenly matched, Ireland’s Shane Long and Daryl Horgan had the best of the chances in the second half. However, a red card for winger James McClean seven minutes from time hampered the home side further and the game finished in a draw.

The result left Wales top of Group 4 on seven points after three games, one ahead of Finland, who comfortably beat Bulgaria 2-0 in Helsinki. Ireland are third on two points, with Bulgaria bottom on one.

In the other early-evening League B game, playmaker Martin Odegaard set up Erling Haaland for two of his three goals as Norway thumped Romania to leave them second in the group behind Austria, who beat Northern Ireland 1-0 in Belfast.

In Group, 2 Lyndon Dykes scored as Scotland beat bottom side Slovakia 1-0 to go top on seven points, with the Czech Republic, who won 2-1 in Israel, second on six points.

Group 3 leaders Russia were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Turkey, with Hungary making the most of that result by beating bottom side Serbia 1-0 to move into second place on six points, one behind the leaders.

Reporting by Philip O’Connor, editing by Ed Osmond