The Norwegians went into the match knowing three points could secure their passage to the quarter-finals for the first time.
The Europeans were dominant throughout and had countless opportunities to score although a hard-working Argentina turned in their best performance of the tournament by far, having shipped 15 goals in their previous two outings.
Emilie Haavi’s volleyed goal on 25 minutes seemed set to open the floodgates but Norway had to wait until 20 minutes from full time to double their advantage, with the silkily-skilled Caroline Hansen thrashing a loose ball home.
Then it was the Argentinians who finally had something to celebrate as Yael Oviedo swept home from close range with eight minutes remaining, following a fumble from goalkeeper Nora Gjoen.
Norway’s second-placed finish in Group C means they will tackle Germany in their quarter-final in Saitama.
“I‘m an experienced coach and I knew after the first defeat against Korea that it is not over,” said Norway coach Jarl Torkse. “The key match was against Canada. We never lost the hope. Hope Leads. Thanks to all this lovely players.”