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Dublin: 12°C Monday 17 May 2021


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AND THEN THERE were eight. 

Here we go. It’s the first of the 2019 Women’s World Cup quarter-finals, with England and Norway going head-to-head in Le Harve. Kick-off is 8pm and you can watch the action live on RTÉ 2 / BBC One, or of course, follow it all here. One thing’s for sure: it’s going to be a good one. 

A heatwave has taken over France and 20,000 supporters are filing into the Stade Océane in Le Harve, eagerly anticipating a repeat of the 2015 World Cup round of 16 tie in Canada. On that occasion, the Lionesses won 2-1 and now, they’re hoping to reach the semi-finals for a second successive tournament. But surely Norway have other plans…

Before we get stuck into the rest of the build-up, here’s a look at the teams.

Phil Neville has made just one change to his England side that beat Cameroon. Demi Stokes starts in place of Manchester United captain Alex Greenwood. Captain Steph Houghton, Millie Bright and Lucy Bronze all start after pre-match uncertainty.

Norway, meanwhile, have gone with the same starting side that beat Australia after a penalty shootout in the last 16. Make sure to keep an eye on Caroline Graham Hansen.

England XI: Bardsley, Bronze, Walsh, Houghton, Bright, Parris, Scott, Kirby, Duggan, Stokes,White.

Norway XI: Hjelmseth, Moe Wold, Mjelde, Thorisdottir, Minde, Saevik, Boe Risa, Engen, Reiten, Graham-Hansen, Herlovsen.

england Source: Lionesses/Twitter.

norwat Source: Fotballandslaget/Twitter.

Norway, who went through from Ireland’s group in the qualifiers, are in their first World Cup quarter-final since 2007. They won that one, and also progressed in 1991, 1995 and 1999. They’ve lost just one — to the USA in 2003.

England have progressed from just one of their quarter-finals — the last one, four years ago.

England have an abundance of players to keep an eye on tonight, but one who’s surely on form is Ellen White. She’s well in the race for the Golden Boot, with four goals to her name. 

Phil Neville “hadn’t seen anyone better” at the World Cup than his star striker:

“Ellen has taken her game to another level,” he said, as quoted by the BBC. “At the Euros two years ago, she played left wing. People thought she was a grafter, a worker. Now she is one of the top centre-forwards at the tournament.

England v Cameroon - FIFA Women's World Cup 2019 - Round of Sixteen - Stade du Hainaut Neville with White after the win over Cameroon. Source: Richard Sellers

“We told her to save her energy for when the big moments come, when the ball drops in the box, and she has learned the hard way. For six months she looked at me as if I had a horn in my head because I’d tell her to stop running. She’d find herself at outside left or outside right.

Now she is like a Ruud van Nistelrooy, or an Alan Shearer, or a Michael Owen. She has turned from a hard-working grafter into a predator. That’s been the biggest change.

The warm ups are done and dusted, the teams are coming onto the pitch. We’re almost ready to go. This should be a cracker.

Norway v England - FIFA Women's World Cup 2019 - Quarter Final - Stade Oceane Source: John Walton

Norway v England - FIFA Women's World Cup 2019 - Quarter Final - Stade Oceane Source: Richard Sellers

The anthems have been sung, handshakes and other formalities all done and dusted, it’s almost time to get stuck in. The crowd in Le Harve are loud, the atmosphere sounds pretty electric already and there’s plenty of England fans packed in. Is it coming home, though?

It’s worth noting it’s 25 degrees in the stadium, 9pm local time. The countdown’s on, we’re off!


KICK-OFF: England start brightly, with the first attack of the game. Norway’s defence are put under pressure straight away but nothing comes off Ellen White’s early header.

Flag 45Mins

WHAT A START FOR ENGLAND! Some brilliant play down the right from Parris and Bronze, who then sends a sweeping cross in. Jill Scott fires home, and a brilliant finish it was. Phil Neville will be happy with that start in Le Harve.


England look threatening on the attack, this time down the left wing. Scott, the early goalscorer, gets into the box untracked once again but nothing comes off it. Parras, meanwhile, yet again causes havoc down the right as the Lionesses win a corner. Bronze sends a dangerous ball in but Hjelmseth, the Norway keeper, leaps up to catch and clear her lines. 


Norway’s first real attack of the game results in a corner, which is sent in towards the near post but cleared by Ellen White. After a shaky start, they need to settle into the game now as each player gets a few touches on the ball and then go from there.


Norway are doing as what’s needed anyway… they’ve started to string together a few passes and created a few attacks, nothing too troublesome for the England defence though. One of their stars, Caroline Graham Hansen, is coming into the game more and more by the minute. They really need her to step up if they are to pull one back.


15 minutes gone, and it’s 1-0 England thanks to Jill Scott’s early goal.

Norway v England - FIFA Women's World Cup 2019 - Quarter Final - Stade Oceane Source: Richard Sellers

Norway v England - FIFA Women's World Cup 2019 - Quarter Final - Stade Oceane Source: Richard Sellers


And here’s a look at said opener, England’s fastest-ever World Cup goal:


Norway are looking better and better, the ever-skillful Minde and Ingrid Moe Wold shining, but England look very strong at the back. They’re comfortable on the ball too, just throwing it around the pitch and patiently owning possession as they await their next break.


Big chance for England to make it 2-0. Scott finds Parris with a brilliant ball out towards the right, she flies down the line cutting into a very scoreable position but the newly-signed Lyon star balloons it high and wide across the face of the goal.


Norway enjoy a period of attacking possession but the Lionesses hold firm, before the opportunity comes to counter-attack. Parris is off on her bike, White overlapping but Norway do well to keep them out. At the other end, a similar situation comes about but Graham Hansen’s effort is blocked but Scott.


It’s turning into a bit of a tit-for-tat game now, with a few breaks and counterattacks popping up in-a-row there. Parris has been exciting so far, creating openings every time she gets on the ball and establishing herself as a real dagger in Norway’s side down the right. Houghton, England’s captain, has a go from long-range — it may have been more of a ball in, mind you — but Hjelmseth gathers with ease.


CLOSE! England with another chance to make it 2-0, White’s effort cracking off the post. Considering the Lionesses’ 2011 and 2018 Player of the Year’s form at this tournament, you’d nearly expect her to have put that one away. 


Norway v England - FIFA Women's World Cup 2019 - Quarter Final - Stade Oceane Harper Beckham with an unnamed fan watching on in Le Harve. Source: John Walton


While Phil Neville’s charges appear to be in control, Norway are popping up with moments of brilliance as they look to make that breakthrough. Reiten has an opportunity on the edge of the box but it’s blocked down, she protests claiming it came off the England player’s arm. You wouldn’t know what could happen with VAR these days…


Scott, Houghton, Bronze and Parris are working really well together, the latter pair combining brilliantly down the right and causing serious problems. A let-off for England keeper Bardsley as a poor pass is chased down by Norway but she gets it away under pressure. It looked like she picked up a slight knock in the process, but she seems all good.


Some danger down the left from England there as they pull together a really well-worked team move. Kirby sends a brilliant ball in to the on-rushing Parris at the back post, but her headed effort is deflected out for a corner. Nothing comes off that.

39 minutes gone… God, this first half is flying.

Flag 45Mins

ANOTHER ONE! An easy finish in the end for White, a tap-in if you like, as she really eyes the Golden Boot with her fifth goal of the tournament. Came from down the right once again, the electric Parris doing brilliantly in the build-up and sending a superb ball in. The ex-City star well and truly put it on a plate for the goalscorer.


What a first half for England. They’ll be more than happy heading in at the break with some breathing space. Woah, they’ve just come so close to making it three there. Scott missed a sitter just into injury time. 


Some nice history for England there…

They’ve scored their fastest-ever goal at the World Cup, and Ellen White has become England’s all-time top scorer at the tournament. 

enhaldn2 Source: FIFAWWC/Twitter.


Here’s that second goal. Just look at Parris in the build-up. Brilliant.


So England are 45 minutes away from a World Cup semi-final, 2-0 up and in the driving seat. Norway just haven’t found that spark, they’ve made some poor decisions while England have grabbed their chances. What do you guys thing at home?


SECOND-HALF: Norway get us underway. They really have to bite back here, in dire need of a goal. The next one is vital — England get it, they’re home and hosed. Norway, on the other hand, and it’s game on.


They’ve definitely started well. Minde plays a brilliant ball in and you’d expect Graham Hansen to pull the trigger first time, but she delays and Houghton is all over it. They’ve opened them up though so they’ll take some encouragement from that. It looks like Norway are going to go more direct this period, pressing on more and more.


But while Norway attempt to press forward and go in search of an all-important goal, they leave themselves a little vulnerable at the back. The ball is played over the top to White as the Lionesses go looking for a third, but the Norwegians get back just in time to cut her out.


A bit of confusion there so the referee makes England re-take a free-kick. Nothing comes off it as it’s swung straight in to a Norway player, it ricochets out towards Bronze who lets the rebound fly — but it’s to no avail. Looks like they’re going to take Beth Mead on from the bench.


That change goes ahead… Arsenal ace Mead for Toni Duggan.


CHANCE! Norway are starting to cause England a few problems, finding those little spaces as they get in behind the Lionesses’ back four. Few opportunities in-a-row there.

Flag 61Mins

TOP BINS! Lucy Bronze with an absolute and utter rocket. What a strike. Mead cleverly takes a free kick quickly, finding Bronze on the edge of the box who in turn, fires the ball into the roof of the net. Interesting though, they tried to take a free-kick in a similar position quickly just a few minutes ago and the referee made them retake.


And from there, England want more. They’re keeping their foot on the pedal, pushing on as Norway continue to struggle. Everything’s happening down that right wing of Bronze and Parris, and England’s tails are well and truly up.


Norway aren’t giving up though. Mjelde with their latest chance but to their misfortune, Bardsley keeps it out. It just isn’t their night. Utland is getting ready to come on, she might lift them.


And yes, Utland is in for Sævik as Norway try to get something out of this game. Her strong, physical presence may help them pull one back.


That she does! Utland’s in there, she gets a shot away from a difficult angle but Houghton gets there just on time to clear the ball off the line. Norway thought they had a goal there, a massive scare for England.


CHANCES! Engen and Utland are combining really well, the latter getting a shot on target but Bardsley gets a save away. She’s forced to dive, but does so at ease. Then there’s another one! Herlovsen looks like she’s in for Norway’s first but Bardsley produces another brilliant save to keep her clean sheet.


Bright and Houghton are looking a little shaky at the back there, the fatigue creeping in perhaps. But Norway have upped the ante and are looking for that crucial goal. Utland has really inspired her side since being introduced.


A look back at that third goal. Brilliant, it must be said. What a strike! 


The crowd are really getting into this one despite the three-goal gap. The drums are beating, fans shouting their side on and the Mexican Wave in full flow.


Another Norway chance as Utland gets a promising flick on a long-range strike in, but that drags just wide. Very, very close though. Changes have been made on both sides: Georgia Stanway comes in for Kirby, and Amalie Eikeland for Reiten.


Good goalkeeping from Hjelmseth there as she denies White. The England player is down getting treatment on what looks like her left arm. Neville may take her off now with their semi-final spot all but secured…


The boss man makes no change yet anyway. White is back on her feet and in the thick of the action, must to the England fans’ delight. Norway are pushing on, the England defence again looking iffy as they make a few more mistakes. They’re not clinical enough though, Norway haven’t taken their chances.


PENALTY FOR ENGLAND! They’ve the chance to make it four now, with Parris taking hold of the ball as we await the VAR reaction.


SAVE!!! Well-struck penalty by Parris but Hjelmseth gets a hand to it, producing a stunning save to ensure it stays 3-0.


Five minutes to go, Norway bring in fresh legs but England will be confident in their ability to close this one out. Who knows, they might even add another to make up for the penalty miss.


It’s Norway with the latest chance though. And it’s another decent one as they open the England defence up yet again, but Bardsley saves the day. Again. 


Daly comes on for Parris as England continue to close this one out. They’re content to pass the ball around and remain in control as the clock counts down. 


A look at the penalty, the kick itself and how it came about:


Five minutes additional time have been announced. The latest effort comes from the boot of Georgia Stanway, she connects with it decently but it spirals wide. There’s another just after involving Daly, but it remains 3-0.


They really aren’t throwing the towel in and settling for three. Stanway, in particular, from the bench is on the hunt for a goal. Just over a minute to play. 


That’s that. England march on, Norway go home.


So England go through to the semi-final, where they’ll face the winner of France and the USA. Those two face off tomorrow night, while the last four clash is pencilled in for next Tuesday night in Lyon — and it’s a sell-out already.

That’s all from me, but you can read a full match report here on The42 in the coming minutes.

Neville’s England the first through to World Cup semi-finals after three-goal win over Norway


We’ll be going minute-by-minute again tomorrow night as England find out their semi-final opponents. France and the USA is going to be MASSIVE. Then on Saturday, the Netherlands and Italy face off, as do Germany and Sweden. Here’s to a great few days. 

Thanks for reading, and goodnight.

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Emma Duffy


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