Four City players started for Phil Neville’s side - and it was Georgia Stanway who opened the scoring after just 10 minutes with a superb first-time effort from 25 yards that crashed in off the underside of the bar.
However, it was something of a false dawn. England were far from their best, with loose passing and a lack of urgency in possession allowing Norway hope of a result.
Carly Telford made a fine low stop early in the second half to keep the scores level, but the from the resulting corner Frida Maanum headed home to equalise for the home side.
Lucy Bronze perhaps should have restored England’s lead moments later, but her header from inside the area went the wrong side of the post.
And with England struggling to create clear-cut chances, a late Caroline Hansen goal condemned Neville's side to a disappointing defeat against a side they beat at this summer's World Cup in France.
Next up for the Lionesses is a friendly against Brazil at the Riverside Stadium on 5 October.
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Norway: Hjelmseth (Fiskerstrand 86'), Moe Wold, Mjelde, Thorisdottir, Minde, Sævik, Risa, Maanum (Engen 56'), Eikeland (Ukland 69'), Reiten, Graham Hansen
England: Telford (Roebuck 78'), Daly (Williamson 77'), Stokes, Walsh, Houghton, Parris, Bronze, Taylor, Duggan, Bright, Stanway