Former world champions Norway rediscovered their form and ferocity in the nick of time as Sophie Haug’s hat-trick helped them hammer the Philippines to reach the last 16 of the 2023 Fifa Women’s World Cup.
Having failed to win in their opening two games and with star Caroline Graham Hansen criticising the decision to leave her out of the side, Hege Riise’s faltering team were in serious danger of finishing bottom of a group they were expected to breeze through.
But with Hansen restored to the side and the bit between her teeth in Auckland’s Eden Park, the Grasshoppers tore into their poor opponents to get the win that sees them finish second in Group A and sends the Philippines home.
Haug got the ball rolling in just the sixth minute courtesy of a neatly taken back-post volley before then doubling her and her side’s tally 11 minutes later via a looping header.
Hansen underlined her importance with the third, scoring with a superb low shot from range – a key goal that gave Norway complete control of their fate, regardless of the scoreline in the other final group game between Switzerland and co-hosts New Zealand.
Norway then put the outcome completely to bed with two goals early in the second half – a bundled own goal from the unfortunate Alicia Barker and a Guro Reiten penalty.
The Philippines’ woes were compounded when substitute Sofia Harrison was sent off less than 10 minutes after coming on following a VAR review on a late challenge on Thea Bjelde.
In the middle of 11 added minutes, Haug completed her treble with another header and could have had a fourth but steered a sliding effort against the post.
Norway will now face the winner of Group C – which will be either Spain or Japan – in the last 16 in Wellington on 5 August.
Switzerland topped Group A after drawing with New Zealand in the other game played on Sunday.
The real Norway arrive just in time
What a difference a well-timed goal can make.
Norway came into this match having failed to get the ball in the net in their two previous games, with an opening-game defeat and second-game draw leaving them under serious threat of going out before the knockout rounds of a World Cup for only the second time.
All of this had been played out to the noise of disharmony in their camp, with rumours of discontent coming to a head when Hansen went public with her criticism following the decision to bench her for the draw with Switzerland.
On top of all that, their other elite player, inaugural Ballon d’Or winner Ada Hegerberg, has spent more time on the sidelines than she has on the pitch as a result of a groin injury, which also kept her out of Sunday’s contest.
For five minutes, in an Eden Park audibly largely backing their opponents, the Norwegians were visibly nervous as the Philippines came out swinging.
And then Haug hooked in her back-post volley from Bjelde’s cross and everything changed. The switch was flicked and the brittle and almost broken Grasshoppers became the confident and clinical side that have graced so many a successful major tournament in the past.
Haug headed home her second with 17 minutes on the clock and as soon as Hansen’s low drive found the net just after the half hour the result was beyond doubt.
Wary of the danger a single Philippines goal in Auckland or either of the sides netting in Dunedin posed to their qualification chances, Norway came out after the break with fresh vigour.
Clumsy Philippines defending gave them the cushion and comfort they craved as Barker bundled into her own net, Jaclyn Sawicki clattered Reiten in the box for the penalty and then Harrison flung a late boot into Bjelde’s shin to make it 11 v 10.
The icing on the cake came courtesy of Haug, who completed her hat-trick in a lengthy period of injury time, becoming the second player to net a treble at this World Cup after Ary Borges for Brazil against Panama.
They can now look towards the last 16 with renewed belief and the hope that Haug, Hansen and Rieter can replicate their displays here and Hegerberg can return to further boost their chances.
Philippines out but not down
It did not end as they had hoped, but this has been a tournament of progress for the Philippines.
Having undertaken a drive over the past decade to recruit talent from the Filipino diaspora, most notably in the United States, they now have not just their first ever World Cup appearance but also a first win on the global stage, courtesy of the 1-0 victory over New Zealand on Tuesday.
Barring the momentum-fuelled charge of the opening five minutes in Auckland, they struggled to get at Norway and did not once properly test Aurora Mikalsen in the Grasshoppers goal.
They had a few moments to remember, though, most notably a magnificent fingertip save to deny Rieter a late goal from Olivia McDaniel, who did everything in her power to keep the deficit to just six.
They fall at the first hurdle but leave with heads held high.
- 13BjeldeSubstituted forSønstevoldat 68′minutes
- 16HarvikenSubstituted forBergsvandat 81′minutes
- 18MaanumSubstituted forEngenat 68′minutes
- 8Bøe RisaBooked at 86mins
- 10Graham HansenSubstituted forJøsendalat 82′minutes
- 20HaaviSubstituted forSævikat 68′minutes
- 19Bratberg Lund
- 17BarkerSubstituted forRandleat 57′minutes
- 20QuezadaSubstituted forAbrahamsenat 82′minutes
- 4SawickiSubstituted forBugayat 74′minutes
- 21GuillouBooked at 54mins
- 7BoldenSubstituted forMcDanielat 74′minutes
- 9FlaniganSubstituted forHarrisonat 57′minutesBooked at 67mins
- Marie-Soleil Beaudoin
Match ends, Norway 6, Philippines 0.
Second Half ends, Norway 6, Philippines 0.
Foul by Sophie Haug (Norway).
Dominique Randle (Philippines) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt saved. Guro Reiten (Norway) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Sophie Haug (Norway) hits the left post with a right footed shot from very close range. Assisted by Anna Jøsendal with a cross.
Foul by Ingrid Engen (Norway).
Meryll Abrahamsen (Philippines) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt missed. Sara Eggesvik (Philippines) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Katrina Guillou following a set piece situation.
Foul by Ingrid Engen (Norway).
Sara Eggesvik (Philippines) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Attempt missed. Vilde Bøe Risa (Norway) right footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Anna Jøsendal.
Goal! Norway 6, Philippines 0. Sophie Haug (Norway) header from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Guro Reiten with a cross.
Attempt missed. Guro Reiten (Norway) left footed shot from a difficult angle on the left misses to the right. Assisted by Anna Jøsendal.
Attempt saved. Anna Jøsendal (Norway) left footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Vilde Bøe Risa.
Attempt saved. Anna Jøsendal (Norway) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Anja Sønstevold.
Vilde Bøe Risa (Norway) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Vilde Bøe Risa (Norway).
Meryll Abrahamsen (Philippines) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Ingrid Engen (Norway) wins a free kick in the defensive half.