England advance to Women’s World Cup final four
Le Havre (France) June 28 (IANS): England defeated Norway 3-0 in the quarterfinals to claim a berth in the semifinals of the ongoing Women’s World Cup. With five wins in as many matches, Phil Neville’s squad is yet to show any weaknesses in the tournament.
Some questioned the choice of the former Manchester United and Everton man to coach the national team, but he appears to have found just the right balance between veterans and youngsters to spur hopes of a golden age for women’s soccer in England, reports Efe news.
England reached the semis in the 2015 World Cup and in the most recent European Cup and are sure to pose problems for their next opponents: the winners of Friday’s quarterfinal in Paris between hosts France and the defending champion US.
In Thursday’s contest at Stade Oceane in Le Havre, the English women faced a Norway side fatigued after their round-of-16 clash with Australia, which was settled by penalties.
Norwegian coach Martin Sjogren went with the same starting 11 and only one of his players, midfielder Karina Saevik, showed much energy or ambition in the first half.
England, meanwhile, jumped out to an early lead on a goal in the third minute by Jill Scott, who got her foot to a through-ball from Lucy Bronze.
Nikita Parris, who leads the Women’s Premier League in scoring, sent the ball over the cross-bar minutes later.
Ellen White hit the post shortly before the half-hour mark before connecting with a cross from Parris to make it 2-0 in the 40th minute.
Norway threatened early in the second half, but England captain Steph Houghton cut off a ball from Isabell Herlovsen for Caroline Graham Hansen.
Bronze added a third goal for England in the 57th minute. Her blast from 20 yards out after a free kick drew left David Beckham – in the stands to cheer on his country-women – with his mouth agape.
Comfortably ahead, England eased off a little, even missing a chance to boost the lead to 4-0 when Norway keeper Ingrid Hjelmseth saved a penalty by Parris.
But three goals turned out to be more than sufficient.