The fastest goal in this WWC, an England clean sheet and a Norwegian side that just couldn’t score means the Lionesses are one step closer to actually bringing it home.
The quarter finals are here and we had a cracking match up of Norway (I know…) v England to kick it off. Both Steph Houghton and Millie Bright started for The Lionesses after days of being in doubt. The more I think about it, the more I’m sure Phil Neville was playing mind games with Norway’s Niles Crane look-a-like. ‘Oh no, our two amazing fullbacks might not start…’ Nice try Phil.
I expected this to be a low scoring but exciting game given the talent on these two teams, so when England went up 1-0 in the 3 rd minute I’m bloody shocked. Lucy Bronze stormed down the right wing before cutting back towards Ellen White, who takes a swing and misses. Not a problem for the Poms as Jill Scott is there to shin it into the bottom left, with a little help off the upright. Norway’s Kristine Minde makes some great runs towards goal in the aftermath but nothing seems to be sticking for the Norwegian attack.
The Lionesses have a few more chances in the first half through Nikita Parris (skied it), White (hit the post) and Parris again (got a head onto Fran Kirby’s cross but blocked by Ingrid Hjelmseth at the near post).
As England apply more pressure, Bronze and Parris link up beautifully before Parris provides for an unmarked White in the box to slot it home from a few yards out in the 40th . White draws level for the Golden Boot with five goals and it seems ridiculous that Norway allowed her to have such a clear shot on goal in the first place.
HT: Norway 0 – 2 England
Norway come out on the attack in the second half and Graham Hansen had the perfect opportunity to pull one back within the first minute. She takes one touch too many allowing Houghton to come across and clear.
At this point I really want England to stay on top for quite a petty reason. Each Tildas fan is going to heal in their own way after last Sunday (TAKE AS LONG AS YOU NEED), but Guro Reiten posted a photo of Maren Mjelde celebrating after her pen on Insta yesterday (today if you’re still in France) and I can see crest fallen Matildas in the background. Not cool Reiten and small part of me wants her to feel the same pain. Again, pretty petty but this is how I can start to move on.
I’m a little too thrilled when Bronze makes in 3-0 in the 57 th after an outstanding strike from the edge of the area. Great moment on the screen when Harper Beckham goes to high five her dad following the goal and Beckham completely blanks her. Harper trying to get her dad’s attention is a real mood. Norway don’t seem to be giving up just yet and Lisa-Marie Utland injected some hope into their front line after coming on for Karina Saevik. Her best chance came in the 68th just minutes after coming on but Karen Bardsley gets down to collect.
Not that this game is boring in any way but there seems to be a bit more tempo as Norway try to fight their way back into the match. You feel like they might just get one when England are awarded a PK up the other end after a push on Houghton in the box the 82 nd . Parris steps up to the spot but Hjelmseth has her number and dives the right way.
There’s five additional minutes but you know England have this wrapped up at 3-0. When the full- time whistle goes, I feel a little sad for Norway (like the smallest bit). England’s much improved performance sees them through to the semi-finals for the second tournament in a row where they await the winner of France v USA.
By Bree Reidy