Australia earns World Cup quarter-final berth
Kyah Simon scored twice Wednesday to give Australia a 2-1 win over Norway and put her team through to the quarter-finals of the women's World Cup.
Elise Thorsnes gave Norway the lead in the 56th, but Simon equalized a minute later. Her powerful header from Kim Carroll's cross then sealed the win in the 87th.
Before 18,474 fans at the Bay Arena, neither side created any clear-cut chances before the game came to life when Thorsnes capitalized on a defensive mix-up to open the scoring.
Norway defender Trine Ronning hit the crossbar with a free kick in the 84th.
"Sometimes things go for you and sometimes they go against you," Australia coach Tom Sermanni said. "I'm very proud of my players and very proud of their efforts and that they came back from 1-0 down to win. … It will be a huge confidence booster for our players, not just for this tournament, but for other tournaments in future."
Norway needed to beat Australia to advance from Group D. It's the first time the team had failed to advance from the group stage at the World Cup.
"We stand together and we will come back strongly," Norway coach Eli Landsem said. "They scored the goal they were supposed to score. I can only say we're not happy with the result, but we will be back."
Both coaches opted for much-changed lineups in a bid to provoke a response, but it was Australia that made the better start.
With Norway panicky in defence and unable to hold onto the ball for any length of time, it seemed only a matter of time before the lively Simon, Lisa De Vanna or Samantha Kerr put their side ahead.
Neither Kerr nor Simon could connect with Elise Kellond-Knight's cross from the left in the 12th, however, and Norway almost took the lead from a well-worked free kick when Servet Uzunlar managed to block a shot from Gry Tofte Ims in the 15th.
A mistake from Uzunlar — when the ball bounced over her head in her penalty area — allowed Cecilie Pedersen the chance to score minutes later, but the Norwegian's shot was deflected narrowly over for a corner.
De Vanna then showed great technique to control the ball on the edge of the area, but attempted to lob Ingrid Hjelmseth first time when she had more time to chose her shot.
The game was held up while Hjelmseth was treated after being injured when landing awkwardly in a tussle with Kerr. The Norway goalkeeper was replaced at halftime by Erika Skarbo.
A mix-up between Uzunlar and Barbieri allowed Thorsnes score. Neither claimed the ball from the onrushing striker, and Thorsnes took it past the stranded Barbieri before finishing emphatically to the empty net.
Celebrations were cut short when Simon replied straight away. De Vanna's determination took her past two Norway defenders, and she crossed for Simon to sidefoot past Skarbo.
Soon after, Skarbo won a race to the ball against Kerr to prevent the Australian from scoring again.
The resurgent Australians had a number of chances to take the lead. Simon should have scored again in the 70th, when she dragged her shot to the right with only Skarbo to beat.
Aware that only a win would do, Norway went close through Trine Ronning before Pedersen fired over after working herself into a good position.
It was Simon, however, who had the final word.
"I'm just loving every moment," she said.