Australia have reached the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ quarter-finals for the second time in succession as Kyah Simon’s double secured a 2-1 victory over Norway in Leverkusen.
The two teams exchanged goals early in the second half before Simon settled the issue three minutes from time to set up a meeting with world number one USA in Augsburg.
The pair had met in the group stage at China 2007 and on that occasion produced a 1-1 draw, helping the Europeans win the group ahead of the Matildas. This time around Australia went into the contest needing just a draw to progress on goal difference ahead of Norway.
Australia had the better of the early exchanges but it was Norway that came closest to grabbing the first goal on the quarter-hour mark. Cecilie Pedersen latched onto a loose ball and only a smart one-handed parry over the crossbar denied the Norwegian No10.
Midway through the opening half Norway goalkeeper Ingrid Hjelmseth appeared to injure her ankle in challenging for a high ball, with the experienced 31-year-old only able to continue after lengthy treatment.
Elise Thorsnes provided the star turn of the first half by forcing Barbieri into three saves in quick succession, with the Aussie custodian stretched on each occasion.
Australia had to wait until five prior to the interval before they conjured a dangerous strike on target. The always lively Lisa De Vanna found some acreage and hit a strong effort from outside the penalty area into the arms of a well positioned Hjelmseth.
Norway made two half-time substitutions with Hjelmseth succumbing to her injury to be replaced by Erika Skarbo, while Emilie Haavi, goalscorer in the opener against Equatorial Guinea, also made way.
Norway made the breakthrough on 56 minutes as Thorsnes took advantage of hesitation between defence and goalkeeper to slot into an empty net.
However the Matildas responded immediately as De Vanna pick-pocketed a defender near the corner, before pulling the ball back perfectly for Simon to side-foot the equaliser.
The exchange of goals opened up the match considerably, and the same two players combined once more for Australia on 70 minutes with De Vanna again the provider for Simon, but the Aussie striker dragged her shot just wide with only the goalkeeper to beat.
Norway were inches away from finding a winner and with it, passage to the quarter-finals, as Trine Ronning hit a superb free-kick only to be denied by the crossbar.
Australia scored the winner three minutes from time with Simon producing a perfect header from Kim Carroll’s cross.
There was still time for Norway substitute Isabell Herlovsen to miss the goal by inches with her lobbed effort.
The result was Australia’s first win against the 1995 world champions across their five meetings. The result was doubly disastrous for Norway who not only miss the quarter-finals for the first time, but are now out of the running for the 2012 Olympic Football Tournament in London.
Player of the match: Kyah Simon (Australia)