WUHAN, China -- Isabell Herlovsen scored in the first half
with help from a defensive mistake and Norway defeated host China
1-0 Sunday to advance to the semifinals of the women's World Cup.
The athletic Norwegians controlled the midfield and outmuscled
China, which played with four forwards for most of the second half
but wasn't able to convert.
An error by right fullback Wang Kun led to Herlovsen's goal in
the 32nd minute. She was the only defender between Herlovsen and
the goal but was slow to respond, losing her footing as she tried
to knock the ball loose. Herlovsen kept control and easily finished
the shot from 10 yards.
"The game was very tight and we could manage to score because
they made a mistake in defense and our striker was very quick to
react on that," Norway coach Bjarne Berntsen said. "Sometimes
tight games are like this, they are decided on mistakes like
Norway had only eight shots in the game, compared to 21 for
Brazil defeated Australia 3-2 in the other quarterfinal Sunday
and will play No. 1-ranked United States on Thursday in Hangzhou.
Norway will play Germany on Wednesday in Tianjin with the finals
set for Sunday in Shanghai.
China opened the game aggressively, with a 12-2 edge in shots in
the first half, but rushed the attempts. Bi Yan fired a long-range
shot in the 21st minute that goalie Bente Nordby had to dive to
stop, followed by a close-range attempt a minute later that went
directly to the keeper.
The Chinese were unable to muster any dangerous shots in the
second half despite having two more forwards.
"We created chances today and we didn't score," coach Marika
Domanski-Lyfors said. "In the second half you have to change a
little bit so we played 3-3-4 and it nearly worked, but very close
and close is not good enough."
Of the four teams in the semifinals, three have won the title
before: Germany, Norway and the United States.
The loss was a huge disappointment for host China, which has
been playing in stadiums packed with boisterous fans. The capacity
crowd of 52,000 stayed until the end Sunday, waving flags and
lighting a couple of flares as China made a last-gasp offensive
Without China, attendance is likely to fall in a tournament that
has been played in many half-full venues.