AUCKLAND, New Zealand — Former champion Norway vented its ire on the Philippines on Sunday en route to an emphatic 6-0 victory that sent the Filipinas crashing out of the FIFA Women’s World Cup after their Group A match at the Eden Park.
The Norwegians had been unimpressive in their first two matches and they finally came alive and lived up to their lofty billing by inflicting heavy damage early.
Sophie Roman Haug pulled off a hat trick brick, scoring in the sixth, 17th and 95 minutes to shove Norway to the Last 16 knockout stage.
Celebrated striker Caroline Graham Hansen had a blistering goal for the other marker in the 31st minute while Guro Reiten converted a penalty kick in the 53rd minute that boosted the former World Cup champions to second place on super goal difference.
On a miserable night for the charges of Australian coach Alen Stajcic, defender Alicia Barker came off the bench and scored an own goal in the 48th minute while substitute Sofia Harrison was flashed a red card 11th minutes later that left them with only 10 players on the pitch.
Also seeing their bid of advancing to the next round cut short were the hometown Ferns, who were held to a frustrating scoreless draw by Switzerland at the Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.
Thanks largely to their 1-0 win over the Philippines in the same venue last week, the Swiss sealed top spot in the group with five points while the Norwegians took second with four points on superior goal difference as they both made it to the knockout round.
New Zealand, which finished third, and the Philippines, were left out in the cold.
At the post-match press conference, Stajcic conceded that they lost to a much superior team.
“As we said, they are a very classy team. They were favorites to win this group and they showed some of their class today,” he noted.
“They really picked us apart in some of the battles in the box early and this allowed them to be more creative as the game went on.”
But he praised his squad for fighting till the end despite being outclassed and outmanned, especially in the second half.
“We tried to fight to the end with 10 players and we kept them out from 25 to 30 minutes. I am so proud with the heart and spirit of the team. They fought till the end, to the death, and from that perspective it has been an amazing World Cup,” the coach stressed.
Haug, who plays for AS Roma in the Italian Serie A, Haug, opened the floodgates in scoring two consecutive goals in the first 17 minutes, booting the icebreaker with a left-footed flick inside the box in the sixth minute then did it again 11 minutes later with a glancing header almost from the same spot.
A star at Barcelona, Hansen blasted a sizzling roller from the right side of the fringe of the penalty area in the 31st that gave Norway an imposing 3-0 lead.
The Norwegians padded that lead to 4-0 when Barker couldn’t clear the ball in the face of intense pressure that she accidentally drove the ball into the Philippine goal three minutes into the second half, after which Reiten added the fifth with a penalty kick off Anicka Castañeda’s tackle inside the box.
Fittingly, it was Haug who scored the last goal with a stunning strike five minutes into injury time.
Among the changes that the Stajcic made was giving youthful striker Isabella her first start after coming off the bench in the game against New Zealand, giving the squad another option on offense, but apparently went for naught.
The Filipinas seemed energized from the huge crowd of Filipinos, numbering in the thousands, who came out to watch them play.