Norway blaze a trail for favourites

The city of Beijing slowly came to life this Saturday morning following the heady emotion of Friday night's spectacular opening ceremony in the 'Bird's Nest' National stadium. There was to be no let-up in the excitement stakes today though, as Norway became the first and thus far only side to reach the quarter-final stage after the second round of group games at the Women's Olympic Football Tournament. reflects on a day which saw Brazil, Germany and USA return to winning ways, and with all teams still in contention for a place in the quarter-finals, the final group stage games on 12th August should prove to be very interesting indeed.

The big game
The clash in Qinhuangdao saw a well-organised Norway side face Oceania representatives New Zealand in a game that promised much and did not disappoint. The Antipodeans showed once again how much they have progressed, providing a stiff challenge to their European rivals. The Scandinavians ultimately held on to seal their second straight win in the competition having taken an early lead through a Melissa Wiik strike. A 1-0 scoreline was enough for Bjarne Bernt's team not only to claim their berth in the quarter-finals, but also saw them set a new record with six games unbeaten in the competition.

The other games
USA, who took gold in magnificent style at Athens 2004, got their Group G campaign back on track thanks to a superb strike from Carli Lloyd. This was the Americans' first victory of the tournament and leaves them in good shape in their quest to defend their title. However there is still work to be done, with quarter-final spots still up for grabs between themselves, the Japanese and New Zealand.

Another side savouring victory was Sweden, this time at the expense of Argentina. The Albiceleste demonstrated once more their marked improvement from the FIFA Women's World Cup China 2007, typified by an inspired performance in goal from Vanina Correa, but a strike from Nilla Fischer in the second period tipped the balance in favour of the European side. Elsewhere in Group B, Canada and China played out an entertaining 1-1 draw which sees both tied for top spot with four points each. Both goals came in an exciting first half which saw Christine Sinclair and Yuan Xu find the back of the net.

Finally, Germany edged out Nigeria in Shenyang with a 1-0 win which leaves the world champions with a great chance of qualifying from Group F. The game's only goal was scored by Kerstin Stegemann in the second half. The scoreline leaves the Africans' hopes of progressing to the last eight hanging by a thread while the Germans must now be confident of booking their place in the next round.

The player
Even without finding top gear, Marta provided a vital edge in Brazil's Group F clash with Korea DPR and scored a goal in a narrow 2-1 win. Watching in admiration from the stands was Ronaldinho, who was in attendance along with the rest of his Brazil team-mates. The other Brazilian strike came from Daniela, while Ri Kum Suk pulled one back in stoppage time. 

The stat
8 - The number of consecutive games in FIFA tournaments in which German goalkeeper Nadine Angerer has not conceded a goal. It seems that China is a happy hunting ground for Angerer: she won the FIFA Women's World Cup China 2007 with Germany last year without conceding a single goal, and today she proved her worth once more in a 1-0 win for her team over Nigeria

What they said
"What is the difference between Angerer and Oliver Kahn? Nadine can play outfield as well as in goal, while Oliver can't." Silvia Neid, German coach raises a laugh among the press corps when asked about the differences between her goalkeeper and the former Germany shot-stopper.

Sweden 1-0 Argentina
Nigeria 0-1 Germany
USA 1-0 Japan
Canada 1-1 China
Brazil 2-1 Korea DPR
New Zealand 0-1 Norway