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It was a nightmare in Nice as Norway punished Australia. The highly-fancied Matildas are out of the Women’s World Cup, after losing to 1995 tournament winners Norway in the penalty shoot-out after an exhilarating 120 minutes. There is plenty of analysis and insight to come from my Guardian colleagues, but I’ll leave you for now. Thanks for joining me, wherever you are in the world. That was some football match. Much analysis from tonight will concern the refereeing and VAR. Should Australia have been awarded that early penalty? Should Kennedy have been send off? Why was the constant physicality against Kerr allowed to go unchecked? Now, the next match of the 2019 Women's World Cup is England vs Cameroon at 9 PM IST today. Norway will play the winner of that game at Valenciennes. Norway books its place in the World Cup quarterfinals after beating Australia on penalties. It finished 1-1 after normal time, with Herlovsen scoring in the first half for Norway, before Kellond-Knight scored a late equaliser to level the scoreline and send it into extra-time, which was very eventful. Both teams tested the keepers, they had to make numerous saves to deny their opponents, but Norway went the closest, with Risa striking the bar. Australia went down to 10 players in the first period of extra-time, with Kennedy shown a straight red card after being the last defender as Utland raced through on goal and she dragged the Norway striker to the ground. Australia then began to sit deep and defend following the sending off, trying to see the game out to penalties. However, it then missed two of its penalties, whilst Norway converted all of its spot-kicks to clinch its place in the next round, with a 4-1 shoot-out victory. We will be back with the action from that Round of 16 match.
Australia has suffered a heartbreaking loss to Norway in this penalty shootout thriller, cruelly cutting short the Matildas’ World Cup bid. The Aussies missed their first two penalties as Sam Kerr and Emily Gielnik failed to convert from the spot. The Norwegians buried all four of their chances to secure their place in the final eight. Kerr has come to her country’s rescue so often in the green and gold but she blasted her penalty high and wide to miss the target by a mile. Gielnik’s effort was saved by the keeper but Norway made no mistake and its players celebrated wildly. In complete contrast, the Aussies were in tears, many of them slumped on their haunches on the sideline as they struggled to digest the devastating result.
Kyah Simon, who missed the tournament with injury, was devastated. “I’m just really heart broken for the girls,” Simon told SBS. “There’s no worse feeling than getting knocked out of the World Cup.”
The match was riddled with controversial VAR moments with none bigger than Alanna Kennedy being sent off under a straight red card in the first period of extra time. Kennedy’s send-off was described as “hugely controversial” by former Socceroo Craig Foster.
“It’s harsh and my view is it shouldn’t have been given,” Foster said. Socceroos coach Ante Milicic said the game could have gone either way but Kennedy’s red card made it “difficult” for his team. “I’m proud of the girls, they never gave up,” he said. “They always had to do things the hard way and in the end we couldn’t get over this final hurdle.”
Kerr was devastated. “It sucks to lose on a penalty shootout but we’ll learn from this and grow from it,” she said. “The first half was not our best but the second half we came out and dominated. We would’ve liked to win it in the 90 (minutes). “Feels like we’ve let some people down but we’ll be stronger for it.”
The girls in gold paid the price for their high defensive line when a lovely through-ball put Isabell Herlovsen in behind the Matildas’ centre backs and she made no mistake, slotting the ball past goalkeeper Lydia Williams with a composed one-on-one finish after 31 minutes. Kerr was a constant threat as the Aussies dominated the opening. Norway asserted itself after its goal before Australia thought it had a penalty for handball.
Norway’s Maria Thorisdottir protested the decision, claiming the ball hit closer to her shoulder — which is legal — and the VAR was called for. Both sides waited while the referee took several minutes to finalise a decision but in the end the call was reversed and Norway escaped. In the second half Kerr was called offside after poking the ball past the keeper for what she thought was the equaliser but the disappointment evaporated in the 83rd minute when Elise Kellond-Knight scored a spectacular goal from a corner. Her curling effort miraculously evaded the plethora of players in the box and went into the back of the net untouched, making it 1-1 and sending the match into extra time.
Hansen converted the first penalty before Kerr, who had a poor outing, blasted her effort over the bar. Gielnik also missed, while Norway were perfect, winning 4-1 after an epic contest.Norway next match will be on Thursday in Le Havre. England are expected to be their opponents, but they'll have to get past Cameroon first.
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