REIMS, France, Jun 18 – Norway went through to the last 16 of the Women’s World Cup on Monday after beating South Korea 2-1 with two penalties, while Wendie Renard confirmed top spot in Group A for France after downing Nigeria with a spot-kick of her own.
Caroline Graham Hansen gave Norway an early lead from the spot after Cho So-hyun was judged to have grabbed Maria Thorisdottir in the third minute, before winning the decisive second penalty shortly after the break when she was chopped down by Kang Chae-rim.
The Barcelona attacker had to watch while she received treatment on the sidelines as Isabell Herlovsen just squeezed home Norway’s second to secure the points from a nervy encounter and seal second place in Group A, despite Yeo Min-ji’s poked finish 12 minutes from time.
They also survived a late scare from the impressive Koreans when Min-ji headed a fraction wide in stoppage time.
In the next round Martin Sjogren’s side will take on one of Italy, Brazil and Australia, who go into the last round of matches in Group C on Tuesday with first place and a potential two further last 16 places up for grabs.
Outsiders Italy need just a point against Brazil to top the group while the Australians can snatch second place if they beat point-less bottom side Jamaica and the Brazilians — in second level on three points with the Aussies — fail to win.
France meanwhile will take on one of the four best third-placed finishers following their 1-0 win, but face the prospect of tackling defending champions the USA in the quarter finals should the Americans as expected top Group F and win their subsequent last 16 tie.
The French needed a point to take first place in the group but Renard gave them all three from the spot at the second attempt, after Nigeria goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie was judged to have encroached for Renard’s first effort, which hit the post.
Germany meanwhile ensured they missed the Americans in the next round after they topped Group B with a perfect nine points following a comprehensive 4-0 win over South Africa earlier on Monday.
It could instead be Spain, who qualify for the next round in second place behind the Germans after a goalless draw with also-through China, to play the world’s best team.