England became the first team to book their place in the Women's World Cup semi-finals, as they beat Norway 3-0 in Le Havre on Thursday night.
It took just two minutes for England to break the deadlock, as Jill Scott swept home Lucy Bronze's cross. Bronze's pull-back, after some superb play down the flanks, was missed by Ellen White but Scott was perfectly positioned behind her to convert off the post for the Three Lionesses and give them an early advantage.
2:06 - Jill Scott has scored after two minutes and six seconds for England - the fastest goal ever scored by the @Lionesses at a Women's World Cup, and the earliest scored in this edition of the tournament. Blocks. #FIFAWWC #NOR #ENG #NORENG pic.twitter.com/MOy1FGYME3— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 27, 2019
After a long period of dominance from Norway, England doubled their lead through inform striker White. Nikita Parris' burst of pace got her through the Norwegian defence, and she squared it to White who passed it into an empty net to give the Lionesses a firm control of the game.
England made it 3-0 thanks to a sumptuous strike from Bronze, as her powerful strike swerved into the roof of the net.
The Three Lionesses could've made it four through Nikita Parris' penalty, but her effort was well saved by Hjelmseth as she heleped reduce the deficit.
Key Talking Point
After their dramatic penalty shootout win over Australia last Saturday, Norway were eager to further prolong their World Cup adventure. However, as soon as they conceded within two minutes, they lost any sort of control they had over the game and struggled to keep up.
The Gresshoppene were indeed second best to England, as they couldn't cope with their pace and were constantly chasing the ball. They also created a lot of chances going forward, and while their opponents were excellent in defence there was a lack of clinicality in the final third.
It is a disappointing end to Norway's World Cup campaign, but at the end of the day they were second best in Le Havre. They deserve credit for reaching the final eight and can go home with their heads high, after a successful and memorable tournament in France.
Starting XI: Hjelmseth (6); Minde (5), Thorisdottir (5), Mjelde (6), Wold (5); Reiten (6), Engen (6), Risa (6), Saevik (6); Herlovsen (7*), Graham (6).
Substitutes: Utland (6), Eikeland (6), Hansen (N/A).
STAR PLAYER - Isabell Herlovsen attacked well for Norway, creating good chances and coming closest to troubling the England defence. She tried hard to find a way through a resilient backline, and while her efforts came to no avail she put in a very admirable shift in Le Havre.
Key Talking Point
After a convincing 3-0 win over Cameroon, England would certainly aim to assert control of the game quickly as they did on Sunday. The Lionesses did exactly that with their early goal, and from then onwards they had complete control over a submittive Norway side.
England were clinical in attack, punishing the Norwegian defence and picking at their vulnerabilities to intelligently find their way through. As well as their superb attacking performance, they were simultaneously excellent in defence, staying solid and resilient all night.
Phil Neville can be delighted with what was arguably England's best performance of the tournament, with every single player delivering when it mattered. The Lionesses return to the semi-final stage, as they hope to go a historic one step further than the team of 2015.
STAR PLAYER - There are so many English players to praise, in what was a wonderful display. Karen Bardsley and Lucy Bronze were key in defence, while Fran Kirby and Nikita Parris were fluid and confident as they went forward and created numerous chances.
However, it was a captain's performance from Steph Houghton which stood out among the side. She cleared every ball off the line and away from the box, and tackle after tackle she was there at the heart of England's defence denying any slight chance that Norway had in their box.
Houghton was absolutely fantastic, and considering that she had just recovered from an injury her performance was remarkable. It was another excellent World Cup performance from Houghton, who deserves all the praise possible in a great team performance.
England march on to the semi-finals, as they travel down to Lyon for the first of the final four ties on 2 July. They will face either hosts France or the United States in the Parc Olmpique Lyonnais, who face off in the mouth-watering tie on Friday in Paris.
Meanwhile, it marks the end of the road for Norway at the quarter-final stage. Nevertheless, the Gresshoppene should be proud of their efforts, as they record their best ever World Cup finish since their fourth-placed finish in 2007.