A double from Marta lifted Brazil to a hard-working win over Norway and into the quarter-finals of the FIFA Women’s World Cup™.
Norway now face Australia in the final group match with the winner joining Brazil in the last eight. The South Americans need just a point from their final outing against Equatorial Guinea to guarantee top spot.
The Group D contest at Wolfsburg’s Arena Im Allerpark failed to reach any heights in the first half, although Brazil held a one goal advantage despite a tight opening stanza. The game was effectively over as a contest within minutes of the second-half restart as Brazil bagged two goals in as many minutes through firstly Rosana, and then Marta with her second.
The contest began in disjointed fashion as both teams struggled on a slippery surface with misty rain falling throughout the match.
Norway, with Wolfsburg attacker Leni Larsen Kaurin in their line-up, enjoyed some solid crowd support, and it was they who had the first opening. Madeleine Giske found space just inside the penalty area but she hit her effort straight at Andreia.
The midway mark of the half saw the opening goal and Marta’s first of the tournament. The five-time FIFA World Player of the Year raced onto a long ball from Erika and, after taking advantage of a slip by a Norway opponent, stood up her defender before firing inside Maren Mjelde’s near post.
Norway created several dangerous moments with high balls into and around the penalty area, but no clear cut chances were to come of it.
The half ended with Brazil midfielder Rosana collecting a loose ball in midfield and thumping a first-time shot goalwards, which goalkeeper Ingrid Hjelmseth did well to push over the crossbar.
Within the opening minute of the restart Brazil doubled their advantage as Marta burst down the right flank with pace, before drawing several defenders near the penalty area and feeding a square ball to the onrushing Rosana for an impressive goal.
Two minutes later Norway turned over the ball on the edge of the penalty area, and Marta took full advantage by slipping the ball past an exposed Hjelmseth after Cristiane’s initial shot was blocked.
The goals put Norway on the back foot and opened up the contest after a tight first half.
Midway through the half Marta again burst down the left but this time her square ball was just out of the reach of Cristiane. Marta seemed destined for a hat-trick minutes later as she raced clear of the defence only to hesitate with her shot allowing Hjelmseth to save.
Brazil were content to largely sit back as Norway tried to press for goals but the Europeans struggled to create danger, aside from set-pieces.
The final ten minutes saw Norway nearly pull a goal back as Cecilie Pedersen headed a corner back across goal, but Giske scooped her shot onto the roof of the net from close range. Then substitute Elise Thorsnes had her shot deflected onto the roof of the net after yet another dangerous corner from Norway.
Player of the match: Marta