Norway rain on parade of World Cup debutants

Two countries preparing to play in the World Cup for the first time have been given a rough ride in warm-up matches against Norway.

World Cup-bound Panama saw their hopes of a morale-boosting pre-tournament win crumble after just four minutes in a 1-0 defeat to Norway on Wednesday.

Panama will make their World Cup debut in Russia, where the central Americans will face England, Belgium and Tunisia in Group G.

But Hernan Dario Gomez's men will be hoping for an upturn in fortunes after this setback ahead of the June 14th-July 15th showpiece.

At the Ulleval stadium in Oslo, Norway, who did not qualify for the World Cup, took a fourth-minute lead through AFC Bournemouth striker Joshua King.

Panama kick off their campaign against Belgium in Sochi on June 18th, the same day group G opponents Tunisia host England.

But the Central Americans struggled to create scoring chances in Oslo.

The result was Norway’s second successive victory against a World Cup debutant.

On Saturday, manager Lars Lagerbäck’s team won against fellow Nordics Iceland – who were led by Lagerbäck himself during a heroic run to the quarter finals of Euro 2016.

Bjørn Johnsen of Dutch side ADO Den Haag, King and Crystal Palace’s Alexander Sørloth all scored in Reykjavik to inflict a 2-3 defeat on Iceland, who were able to take some comfort in a goalscoring return for star player Gylfi Sigurdsson after injury.

Some Icelandic fans suggested, however, that their team had gone easy on the Norwegians.

The tiny north Atlantic nation, population 330,000, face Argentina, Nigeria and Croatia in the finals in Russia.

Denmark and Sweden will also be involved in the tournament, but Norway have not qualified since 1998, when they memorably beat reigning champions Brazil.

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