SANDEFJORD, Norway: Ada Hegerberg scored a hat-trick when she returned to the national team for the first time since 2017 when Norway beat Kosovo 5-1 in a World Cup qualifier on Thursday while Sweden humiliated Georgia 15-0 in Tbilisi.
Despite the strong wind and the driving snow, Hegerberg received a warm welcome when she entered the field for Norway after an absence of 1,719 days, and within 21 minutes she had scored a goal and nodded home Caroline Graham Hansen’s post.
Two minutes later she was on goal again and finished with a touch when Julie Blakstad ran a low ball over the goal, and midfielder Frida Maanum netted a third before the break.
Norway conceded their first goal in the qualifying campaign when Ereleta Memeti scored early in the second half, but Hegerberg scored her third goal after the hour to please the crowd of 4,759 who braved the bad weather to see how she returned.
She was replaced by Celin Bizet Ildushoey in the 76th minute, and she put in the return from a Hansen penalty when Norway made a performance that will make fans look forward to the European Championships 2022 in July, where they face Northern Ireland, hosts England and Austria.
Norway tops its World Cup qualifying group with 19 points in seven matches, three ahead of Belgium.
Sweden showed no mercy in Georgia when 10 different players came on the goal record in a 15-goal steal from their hosts, where Filippa Angeldal scored a hat trick in the first half on the way to a lead of 11-0 at half time.
The Swedes, who top qualifying group A with 18 points, meet second place Ireland in Gothenburg on Tuesday and one point would send them to the final in Australia and New Zealand.
One good night for the Nordic nations, Iceland went to the top of Group C with a 5-0 victory over Belarus that opened up a one-point lead over the Netherlands in the table.
(Reported by Philip O’Connor, edited by Ed Osmond)