Norway beats Australia on penalties in thrilling Women's World Cup knockout stage clash

Yahoo Sports

The Women’s World Cup is the ultimate opportunity to showcase the growth of the sport, and Norway and Australia more than obliged.

In a captivating, end-to-end round of 16 clash, Ingrid Engen’s penalty kick lifted Norway past Australia 1-1 (4-1 PKs) on Saturday in Nice.

While 120 minutes couldn’t separate the two sides, Norway had the better of play in extra time and carried that momentum into the penalty shootout. Caroline Graham Hansen sent Australia goalkeeper Lydia Williams the wrong way on the first kick, and star Aussie striker Sam Kerr missed high and wide in stunning fashion.

Norway celebrates after Ingrid Engen (14) converted her penalty kick to send them past Australia and into the Women's World Cup quarterfinals. (Getty)
Norway celebrates after Ingrid Engen (14) converted her penalty kick to send them past Australia and into the Women's World Cup quarterfinals. (Getty)

Guro Reiten and Maren Mjelde converted Norway’s next two kicks, sandwiching a save by Ingrid Hjelmseth on Australia’s Emily Gielnik.

Stephanie Catley kept the Matildas alive, but Engen’s penalty in the fourth round certified Norway uncatchable on the scoreboard:

The big story with Norway in the build-up to the tournament was reigning Ballon d’Or winner Ada Hegerberg’s decision to skip the Women’s World Cup amid a years-long protest of the Norwegian federation.

Regardless of how people feel about her decision, the women in France are making headlines of their own. They’ve beaten everyone in their path thus far except co-favorite France, and are one win from the semifinals. Norway reached the semis in four of the first five Women’s World Cups, including winning it all in 1995, but hasn’t been back since 2007.

The Australians, meanwhile, will be left to wonder what could have been this summer. After Italy pulled the rug out from under them in the opener, they fell behind Brazil 2-0 before scoring three unanswered goals to regain confidence.

Kerr’s epic four-goal effort against Jamaica gave Australia the goal difference it needed to finish second in Group C, but Kerr and Co. misfired much of Saturday.

That was bad news considering Australia’s defensive frailties. First-choice center back Laura Alleway was ruled out of the World Cup due to a foot injury, and Clare Polkinghorne didn’t cover herself in glory before picking up an injury in the group stage.

Then, toward the end of the first period of extra time, Alanna Kennedy was sent off for denial of a goal-scoring opportunity after dragging down Norway’s Lisa-Marie Utland:

Kennedy and Catley were beaten on Norway’s goal, split by Isabell Herlovsen’s run to meet Karina Saevik’s artful ball in:

Australia missed out on a penalty right before halftime, when the referee’s handball decision against Maria Thorisdóttir was taken back after a VAR review.

Nevertheless, the Matildas were the better team for much of the second half, and good fortune fell their way when Elise Kellond-Knight’s corner didn’t touch anyone and resulted in an Olimpico goal:

From there, Norway seized back control and nearly won it in stoppage time as Hansen skimmed the inside of the right post with what looked to be a curling cross.

Norway will face either England or Cameroon in the quarterfinals, while Australia will have to regroup.

Kerr, fellow attacker Caitlin Foord and several key members of this squad will be still be in their prime for the next World Cup cycle, which could take place in their home country. Gladys Berejiklian, the Premier of New South Wales, has revealed that Australia’s 2023 Women’s World Cup bid is the first salvo in the so-called “10 in 10” plan, which will reportedly include 10 separate World Cup bids across multiple sports over the next decade.

So the Matildas potentially have that to look forward to.

Norway, meanwhile, is looking to continue its run at this World Cup.

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