Italy need just a point against Brazil to top the group
REIMS: Norway went through to the last 16 of the Women’s World Cup alongside China and Spain on Monday after beating South Korea 2-1, while France and Germany topped their groups with wins over Nigeria and South Africa.
Caroline Graham Hansen gave Norway an early lead from the spot after Cho So-hyun was judged to have grabbed Maria Thorisdottir in the third minute, before winning the decisive second penalty shortly after the break when she was chopped down by Kang Chae-rim.
The Barcelona attacker had to watch while she received treatment on the sidelines as Isabell Herlovsen just squeezed home Norway’s second to secure the points from a nervy encounter and seal second place in Group A, despite Yeo Min-ji’s poked finish 12 minutes from time.
They also survived a late scare from the impressive Koreans, who are nonetheless out after finishing bottom with no points, when Min-ji headed a fraction wide in stoppage time. In the next round Martin Sjogren’s side will take on one of Italy, Brazil or Australia, who go into the last round of group matches in Group C with first place and a potential two further last 16 places up for grabs.
Outsiders Italy need just a point against Brazil to top the group while the Australians can snatch second place if they beat point-less bottom side Jamaica and the Brazilians-in second level on three points with the Aussies-fail to win.
France meanwhile will take on one of the four best third-placed finishers following their 1-0 win, but face the prospect of tackling defending champions the USA in the quarter-finals should the Americans as expected top Group F and win their subsequent last 16 tie.
The French needed a point to take first place in the group but Renard gave them all three from the spot at the second attempt, after Nigeria goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie was judged to have encroached for Renard’s first effort, which hit the post.
Germany meanwhile ensured they missed the Americans in the next round after they topped Group B with a perfect nine points following a comprehensive 4-0 win over South Africa earlier on Monday.
It could instead be Spain, who qualify for the next round in second place behind the Germans after a goalless draw with also-through China, to play the world’s best team. Both the Spaniards and former runners-up China knew a point in Le Havre would take them through to the knockout phase from Group B, and they transpired to play out a stalemate.
Spain did threaten to take all three points late on, but China goalkeeper Peng Shimeng made key saves in the last 10 minutes, getting down low to keep out a Patri Guijarro strike and then reaching to tip over a Jennifer Hermoso effort.
China finshed behind Spain on goal difference but will progress as one of the best third-place finishers. Former world champions Germany had no trouble dispensing with South Africa in Montpellier, as the Banyana Banyana go home from their first World Cup without a point.
Leupolz was left unmarked to head in the opening goal from six yards out in the 14th minute at the Stade de la Mosson, and Sara Daebritz fired in the second 15 mintes later before captain Alexandra Popp emphatically headed home Giulia Gwinn’s cross to seal the points five minutes before the break.
Lina Magull got the fourth goal from close range just before the hour mark, and South Africa then tried in vain to grab a consolation, with Janine van Wyk firing just over from long range and Thembi Kgatlana being denied by goalkeeper Almuth Schult after going clean through.
Germany go into a last-16 tie on Saturday in Grenoble against an as yet unknown third-place finisher from another group. Spain will play in Reims on June 24 against either the United States or Sweden, while China must wait to find out which group winner they will come up against. – AFP