Women's World Cup - Norway dodge humiliation

Wed, 29 Jun 16:06:00 2011

Norway edged past minnows Equatorial Guinea 1-0 in the first Group D match of the Women’s World Cup in Augsburg.

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Officially the world’s fourth best team, Norway held off the challenge from the unfancied Africans who themselves had enough chances to win the game.

Emilie Haavi scored an 83rd minute winner for the Scandinavians after debutants Equatorial Guinea missed a large number of chances throughout the match.

Norway could and perhaps should have taken the lead within 80 seconds when a poor header back to goalkeeper Miriam was intercepted. Elise Thornses fired her right-footed shot across goal, beating the keeper but not beating the post.

The Europeans could have been 2-0 to the good on eight minutes. Isabell Herlovsen found herself on the receiving end of a good passing move and with only the goalkeeper to beat; she somehow fired over the bar from 10 yards.

Equatorial Guinea then settled in what was their country’s first appearance at a senior FIFA tournament. The outsiders started to pass the ball well but were off the mark with their wayward shooting.

It took them until the 16th minute to have a shot on target, and it nearly gave them the lead. Attacking midfielder Jumaria ventured forward and unleashed an effort from 25 yards that needed to be pushed around the post from the flying Ingrid Hjelmseth in goal.

A mix-up in the Norway defence on the half-hour nearly gifted the Africans the lead. Left-back Dulcia collected the ball on the edge of the area and tried to unleash an effort but a superb recovering tackle from Maren Mjelde spared the Scandinavian’s blushes.

On the stroke of half-time Norway came within a few inches of taking the lead. Thornses raced down the left flank and after cutting inside Ana Cristina she curled an effort towards the far post. Unfortunately for her Carolina was on hand to clear off the line.

Equatorial Guinea’s star player and captain Anonman failed to convert any of her five chances during the second half. Twice she went through one-on-one but dragged her shot wide of the right post.

The green and black stripy-haired midfielder then missed probably the best chance of the game as she capitalised on another error by the Norwegians. Anonman raced through into the penalty area but took too long to pull the trigger, allowing Hjelmseth to smother her.

The captain soon regretted missing those chances as the Norwegians took the lead. Cecile Pedersen raced down the right flank before cutting inside and crossing to the far post for Haavi to fire into the roof of the net.

Equatorial Guinea pushed for an equaliser but it was not to be as the Scandinavians held out for a draw, much to their relief.

Norway dodge humiliation

Josh Hayward / Eurosport

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