Norway 0, England 3
England qualified for their second World Cup semi final in a row after beating Norway 3-0 with goals by Jill Scott, Ellen White, and Lucy Bronze.Embed from Getty Images
Scott scored England’s fastest ever goal in a World Cup final while White scored her 5th goal of the World Cup as she joined Alex Morgan at the top of the Golden Boot race with her 5th goal of the World Cup.
Bronze’s superb second half strike settled things while Nikita Parris had a late penalty saved by Norway after she tried to put a late gloss on the scoreline.
It was the first time that England had scored three goals in back to back games at a World Cup.
Although they are improving, England’s lapses at the back will be a concern once they face either USA or France in the World Cup semi final – captain Steph Houghton cleared a Norway chance off the line in the second half to help England keep a clean sheet.
It was their third straight semi final and the team have only conceded one goal so far in the entire tournament despite riding their luck at times.
England also have a fighting chance to help Great Britain qualify for the Olympic football tournament in Tokyo next year.
Phil Neville’s team must finish as one of the top 3 European teams in this World Cup – a feat which could be achieved if the US beat France for the right to play against them in the semi final.
And Neville made just one change to his side to face Norway.
The England boss chose Manchester City’s Demi Stokes as a solid defensive option instead of the more attacking Manchester United captain Alex Greenwood.
Despite pre-match reports of a virus sweeping the England camp and an ill Millie Bright looking touch and go to play the Chelsea defender was given the green light to join Houghton in the heart of the England defence.
Houghton won a battle to be fit herself after recovering from a cynical last minute challenge at the end of the Cameroon game.
And in a game of attack and counter attack, England quickly drew first blood.
Jill Scott stabbed in the opening goal off the post from 10 yards out in just a little over 2 minutes following a miskick by Ellen White after Lucy Bronze’s cutback following a penetrating run down the right flank.
Nikita Parris almost made it two when Scott slipped the ball to her after 21 minutes but she sliced her left footed shot from wide 7 yards out.
England pressed well against the Norwegians, with Bright a rock at the back when they lost the ball with their opponents breaking.
White struck the woodwork after 29 minutes with a fierce shot that came off the post with England cruising after Parris found the England striker with a ball over the top.
Once again, though, losing the ball cheaply could cost England dearly against better sides and Norway wasted the chances they got on the break.
Vilde Risa had a shot blocked while Reiten’s shot came off Stokes’ arm after bouncing off her boot – not a penalty – while Isabell Herlovsen almost forced Karen Bardsley into a mistake following a heavy first touch.
But England doubled the score in the 40th minute with White tapping in her 5th goal of the tournament after Bronze found Parris whose slide rule pass from the right found the England striker unmarked 6 yards out.
Scott stabbed the ball wide from Stokes’ left wing cross in first half injury time as England tried to finish the game within 45 minutes.
Lucy Bronze hits screamer to finish off Norway
Norway should have pulled one back after the break, with captain Houghton nicking the ball off Caroline Graham Hansen as she was about to shoot after England were undone by a long ball into the box.
Beth Mead came on for Toni Duggan after 54 minutes but England lived dangerously at the back as Norway committed to attack.
But England broke through in the 57th minute with Bronze hitting England’s third – a powerful swerving strike from the edge of the area after she had been fouled for a free kick which was swung in by Mead.
Bronze blocked Herlovsen’s strike as Norway tried to get on the scoreboard and Houghton had to clear off the line after Bright’s undercooked back pass.
Karen Bardsley saw plenty of action in the second half as Norway tried to exploit England sloppiness,
Bardsley could have seen sent off if she brought down substitute Lisa-Marie Utland while racing off her line but the Norwegian sub stayed on her feet, testing the England ‘keeper with a shot shortly afterwards.
Herlovsen was denied by Bardsley as England rested on their laurels once again.
Houghton earned England a penalty after she was shoved in the back in the area by Chelsea’s Maria Thorisdottir to earn a late penalty with 8 minutes to go.
Parris stepped up and saw her second spot kick of the tournament saved by Ingrid Hjelmseth.
Rachel Daly replaced Parris as England saw out the comfortable victory which will see them travel to Bronze’s home club stadium in Lyon.
MATCH STATS – Norway 0, England 3
England Women: Bardsley, Bronze, Houghton, Bright, Stokes, Walsh, Scott, Kirby (Stanway 74), Parris (Daly 88), Duggan (Mead 54), White
England Women subs not used: Telford, Earps, Greenwood, Taylor, Williamson, McManus, Moore, Carney, Staniforth
Goals: Scott 3, White 40, Bronze 57, [Parris missed pen 83]
Norway Women: Hjelmseth, Wold (Synne Hansen 86), Mjelde, Thorisdottir, Minde, Saevik (Utland 64), Risa, Engen, Reiten (Eikeland 74), Caroline Hansen, Herlovsen
Norway Women Subs: Fiskerstrand, Bogstad, Hovland, Thorsnes, Asland, Maanum, Redisch Kvamme, Haavi, Nautnes
Booked: Thorisdottir 88
Referee: Lucila Venegas Montes (Mexico)