- Caroline Graham Hansen scored from the spot against Korea Republic
- She was injured after being fouled for another penalty after the break
- Norway will face Group C runners-up in the last 16
By *Philip O'Connor* with Norway
Caroline Graham Hansen scored from the spot and won another penalty as Norway defeated Korea Republic 2-1 to make it through to the last 16 at the World Cup, but the victory came at a price as she ended her evening on crutches. The 24-year-old forward suffered a nasty knock to her left ankle as she secured a spot kick for her side early in the second half and she was subsequently withdrawn from the game, but in the tunnel afterwards she brushed off her personal pain to enjoy the victory with her team-mates.
"My ankle is not working right at the moment, but it's not too bad - what was a lot worse was being on the bench for the final 35 minutes and not being able to help my team. The team will look after it and hopefully I'll be able to play in our next game," she told FIFA.com after receiving the Visa Player Of The Match award for her performance.
Hansen was called upon early as the Koreans conceded a penalty in the opening minutes and she was entrusted to take the kick, but despite the noise coming from the stands, there were no nerves on behalf of the Norwegian as she slotted it home.
"I actually took the final penalty in a shootout for my club Wolfsburg in the 2018 German cup final, and there were about 20,000 people there, so it was just a case of remembering that feeling. I knew if I hit it well enough it would go in," she explained.
Hansen hobbled from one TV interview to the next and then made her way through the mixed zone on crutches, stopping to talk to Norwegian and international reporters before attending the post-match press conference to answer even more questions. Many players would have balked at taking so much time to talk to the media after leaving a game injured, but after quickly reviewing the game with Guro Reiten and embracing some of her team-mates, Hansen was more than happy to do so.
“It’s much easier to do this when we’ve won,” she says with a wry smile.
The playmaker will now have a few days to recover before Norway meet either Italy, Brazil or Australia in their last 16 game in Nice on Saturday and Hansen is hopeful of being fit in time.
“I couldn’t continue tonight but the medical team are positive and they think it will go OK,” she said before revealing that passion for playing for her country that drives her. “This is not just a task – it’s the proudest thing we as players can do, to represent our country in the biggest tournament there is, the World Cup. We do everything we can to defend our colours, our nation internationally and it is a big, big source of pride and honour to be here today with this group."