PRE – Time for likely squash #2 of the day in Group B. The African side were likely gutted by their controversial defeat to Thailand and showed little to indicate they could spring a surprise against a powerhouse when losing to Germany. Barring a shocking upset, they’ll be on a flight home following this match. Norway needs to rack up a lot of goals, more than Germany in the other match by some margin, to advance as group winners. If they can’t turn it on early, they may get their best players off the pitch to rest them for the round of sixteen match.
5’ – After a nervous start, the African side nearly carve out a great chance. Nahi, who was a force against Thailand, cuts inside the area and delivers a cutback that Norway doesn’t clear. With two defenders overrunning it, Nrehy has a chance for an uncontested shot and does well, almost sneaking it inside the far post but failing to get it past the gloves of Hjelmseth.
6’ – GOAL – Norway (Hegerberg) – And that’s why you take your chances. Gulbrandsen lobs an attempted clearance up into orbit with it bouncing down off Haavi’s head in the box. There are two defenders on her but none on Ada Hegerberg, who the ball bounces to. She races endline and swings the ball around the keeper, Djohore, who guards her near post with movement so wooden you fear she’ll burst into flame at any second. Easily done for Norway.
8’ – Mykjaland has a free kick from twenty-five yards, straight onto goal, but she sends a low, bouncing shot that’s easily handled by Djohore.
11’ – The Ivorians have a decent shot to equalize off a free kick from just under thirty yards out. Fatou Coulibaly puts a nice bit of spin on the ball, sending it around the wall but just can’t get it on frame.
11’ – Coulibaly nearly goofs spectacularly at the other end, as she stops running for a Norwegian ball towards her keeper, expecting Djohore to come out and sweep. She doesn’t really, and Haavi almost runs it down before the keeper ushers it away.
14’ – Norway close to a second off another free kick. The captain, Coulibaly, inexplicably stands well behind the line of the rest of her defenders, meaning about half a dozen Norwegian players are onside. The ball flies over everyone and bounces right off of Djohore’s chest. They scramble away. that was odd.
16’ – Nahi turns through a challenge of a Norwegian defender and runs half the length of the field as her teammates struggle to keep up. She shoots from the edge of the area but has her shot blocked. Given her physical attributes, you wonder if Nahi could do a job for a middle tier team in Europe.
18’ – There’s just no communication between the backline and Djohore in goal. Another long ball nearly catches Cote d’Ivoire out again, as the keeper comes out to claim and nearly has Coulibaly head it down her throat.
23’ – Potential penalty shout for Cote d’Ivoire. Elloh takes the ball on the flank and flicks it past Minde, who goes shoulder-to-shoulder with her as they get to the box. The Ivorian goes to ground, but it was probably a bit soft in the end, with the no-call probably warranted.
25’ – YELLOW CARD – Cote d’Ivoire (F. Coulibaly) – They don’t get much more blatant than that. Coulibaly, who’s been seemingly involved in everything today, charges down Haavi at midfield and blows her up with a shoulderblock that sends the Norwegian flying.
26’ – Norway should really be up by two goals. A long ball for Haavi has Djohore coming off her line and getting nowhere near it. The Norwegian should finish with her head into an empty net but puts it impossibly wide.
27’ – Before the replays of the last chance are even finished, Hegerberg has a go from the edge of the area, forcing Djohore to put it behind for a corner. The keeper and Nahi end up on the ground in pain on the corner. Nahi went down after taking an elbow in the stomach from Thorisdottir. She went down rather theatrically, though why Djohore went down in pain is a mystery.
31’ – After a tussle near the endline, Cote d’Ivoire has a free kick in a very dangerous area, near the near edge of the box and the endline. Guehai stands over it and bends in an impressive effort, with Hjelmseth forced to palm over.
32’ – Another moment of indecision for Cote d’Ivoire in defense. Utland wins a header against the captain Coulibaly, and while Djohore looks like getting to the loose ball, Tchetche swoops in and takes it away. The disorganization is crazy.
36’ – Ivorian backline is all over the place. They manage to keep four Norwegians offside, but not Haavi charging from the left flank. Djohore charges out to try and block, but Haavi threads square to a wide open Hegerberg. She slips and puts it well wide, missing when it was easier to score.
37’ – Thorsnes chases a ball down on the right flank and swings over a cross that’s headed away. Only as far as Gulbrandsen though, who brings it down with a subtle touch before swinging over a half-volley that blazes over the bar. Would’ve been a goal of the tournament contender had it gone in.
40’ – Nahi, again. She is allowed time and space and turns into a shot from range around Skammelsrud Lund that Hjelmseth dives to save.
45’ – Norway close again to a second. Long ball to Hegerberg sees her hold off two defenders before backheeling to Utland who gets her finish wrong, putting it well over.
HT – Kind of like the other match in the group, though not to the same degree. Norway should really be up by more than a single goal right now but just haven’t been ruthless with their chances. Cote d’Ivoire have looked dangerous at times on the counter and have the power and some of the pace to hang with Norway at times, especially Nahi. At the same time though, the defense looks like an accident waiting to happen, and you’d have to be crazy to think Norway aren’t going to put more on the board going into the second half.
46’ – SUB – Norway makes a change at the break, bringing off left-back Minde for Ingrid Moe Wold.
46’ – Hey, it’s a chance for the Ivorians right off the bat. Nguessan dribbles and cuts back into the box before passing to Nahi. One shot blocked, and the follow-up by Nahi is low and weak to Hjelmseth. Probably not going to get much better than that for the African side. Ivorians want a handball on Skammelsrud Lund, but it looks like the blocked shot hit her back.
50’ – Norway with a half-chance at the other end. Surging run down the far flank leads to a cross to Hegerberg in the box. She can’t get the ball out from her feet fast enough though, and Fatou Coulibaly slides it away. The defense doesn’t clear the corner away convincingly, and Schjelderup whacks the deflection well off-target.
52’ – YELLOW CARD – Norway (Haavi) – Haavi is, presumably, booked for dissent after being a little less than pleased with a foul call going against her, as Lohoues had seemingly stomped on her foot before the whistle.
53’ – Ivorian free kick, with the captain Coulibaly swinging it over. Hjelmseth doesn’t exactly punch it with much conviction and looks a bit hesitant to do so anyway. Norway eventually clear away.
62’ – GOAL – Norway (Hegerberg) – It’s a goal from nowhere, as Norway had struggled to engage really thus far in the second half. The Ivorians play a combination of loose marking and a suicidally high line that spells destruction, with Hegerberg latching onto a through ball and going 1v1 with Djohore. She’s not going to miss too many of those and finishes with aplomb.
63’ – SUB – Right after the goal, Norway brings on Maren Mjelde for right-forward Utland, who hasn’t looked great today.
65’ – Cisse tries her luck from range but sends a weak, dipping shot to Hjelmseth. Ivorians struggling to get good looks on goal despite getting a decent amount of possession.
67’ – GOAL – Norway (Gulbrandsen) – Done and truly dusted. Mykjaland’s free kick from forty plus yards out sails through the Ivorian restraining line and bounces off Thorisdottir before falling to a wide open Gulbrandsen at the far post. She can hardly miss with her header. Horrible organization from the African side.
68’ – SUB – Cote d’Ivoire bring on Binta Diakite for right-back Cisse.
71’ – GOAL – Cote d’Ivoire (Nguessan) – WHAT. A. STRIKE. If you’re going out, go out like that. Norway hesitates to close down Nguessan, and the diminutive attacker hits a frozen rope from just under thirty yards that rises into the upper-right corner. Goal of the tournament contender.
75’ – Ivorians playing with a little more offensive confidence right now. Either that, or the Norwegians are tiring. Nahi takes a ball past Wold and opts to shoot from a tight angle instead of squaring. It ripples the side-netting.
77’ – Haavi rises high and heads a cross that’s saved by Djohore. Norway’s play had dipped, but that sudden chance shows their constant threat at goal.
79’ – SUB – Norway subs their goalkeeper. Err. In comes Silje Vesterbekkmo for Hjelmseth. Not sure there’s an injury, TBH. Kind of disrespectful if there isn’t.
88’ – It’s tapering down, if we’re being honest. Both sides are probing and creating some half-chances in the box, but fatigue is taking a steep toll.
90’ + 1’ – Should really be four for Norway. A long ball is nodded on by Hegerberg through the ragged Ivorian line, with Thorsnes free and clear against Djohore, who just about saves. Follow up by Haavi trickles to a stop (!) on the turf, letting the keeper fall on it.
90’ + 3’ – SUB – Cote d’Ivoire bring on Nadege Essoh for Binta Diakite, who came on about twenty-five minutes ago. Huh?
90’ + 4’ – SUB – The fourth official doesn’t even get the number right, but central midfielder Lohoues comes off for Akaffou.
FT – Signs of worry for Norway? The 3-1 win perhaps flattered them a bit, though they were the better side. They were guilty of some wasteful finishing in the first half and definitely saw their energy levels dip in the second half. Cote d’Ivoire showed a lot of spirit, despite some gross play acting, but their ragged defending doomed them. They’re a side with potential thanks to players like Nahi and Nguessan, but there’s still a long way yet until they can contend against even second-tier teams.