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Norway and Brazil into semis
Norway oust host nation China, while Brazil are pushed to the limit by Australia.
Last Modified: 23 Sep 2007 15:12 GMT

Norway's Isabell Herlovsen scored the one and only goal of the match against China [GALLO/GETTY]

Norway, 1995 champions, are through to the semi-finals of the Fifa Women's World Cup after a 1-0 victory over host nation China in Wuhan.
 
A defensive blunder cost China a place in the semis, after Wang Kun's 32nd minute hesitation let Isabell Herlovsen steal in behind her to fire a shot into the roof of the net for the only goal of the game.
In Tianjin, Brazil gave up two one-goal leads before hanging on to a 3-2 victory against a valiant Australian side to move through to the final four.
Norway's victory sets up a semi-final clash against arch-rivals and defending champions Germany in Tianjin on Wednesday, and brings the curtain down on China's renaissance under Swedish coach Marika Domanski-Lyfors.
 
"The game was very tight and we managed to score because they made a mistake," said Bjarne Berntsen, Norway coach.
 
"Sometimes tight games like this are decided on mistakes like that.
 
"China played like we expected them to," he added.
 
"They had five midfield and just one up front. That showed they had a lot of respect for us."
 
After a fast and furious opening period, with China driven by a raucous crowd at a packed Wuhan Sports Center Stadium, almost ten minutes passed before either side managed a shot on target.
 

"They had five midfield and just one up front. That showed they had a lot of respect for us."

Bjarne Berntsen, Norway coach

Ma Xiaoxu, China's teenage striker, broke the ice with a left-foot drive from 25 metres that sailed high and wide before fellow forward Han Duan found space on the left and forced Bente Nordby, veteran Norway goalkeeper, into a save three minutes later as the home side piled on the pressure.
 
Norway had to wait until the 18th minute of the match for a first crack at goal when Marie Knutsen blasted a long-range free-kick into the arms of Chinese goalkeeper Zhang Yanru.
 
Norway stand firm
 
China were growing in confidence and Ma fired another shot midway through the half, this time with her right foot, but Nordby easily smothered the ball, while Han sent a header skimming past the post.
 
However just as China looked set for a breakthrough, Wang's error handed Norway the lead.
 
Undeterred, the Chinese continued to press forward but Norway's defence was rock solid with Nordby standing firm between the posts.
 
The match began to swing in Norway's favour in the second half and Ingvild Stensland rattled the crossbar after 51 minutes with a 30-metre drive.
 
China again had their chances, with Ma lashing wildly over the bar then ruffling the side netting, but Norway kept their composure to ensure they reached the semi-finals for the fourth time in five tournaments.
 
Samba Girls see off brave Matildas
 

Brazil's Marta Vieira Da Silva scores from the
spot against Australia [GALLO/GETTY]

Meanwhile in Tianjin, Brazil ended Australia's World Cup dream in a thrilling 3-2 encounter.
 
The Samba Girls were 2-0 up within 23 minutes but were pegged back by goals to Australia's Lisa de Vanna and Lauren Colthorpe before Brazil's Cristiane settled the tie with a classy strike on 76 minutes.
 
Brazil, who are into the World Cup semi-finals for only the second time ever, will face two-time champions the US on Thursday in Hangzhou.
 
The Matildas, ranked 15th to Brazil's seventh, were always going to be up against it and a mountainous task got more difficult when Formiga curled a delicious shot in off the crossbar in just the fourth minute.
 
With Australia struggling to settle, things went from bad to worse when inspirational captain Cheryl Salisbury went off clutching her right ankle, before her replacement Kate McShea had the harshest of introductions when she was adjudged to have dragged down Renata Costa in the box, although replays showed otherwise.
 
Marta coolly side-footed the penalty low and to Melissa Barbieri's right for her fifth goal of the tournament, making her joint top-scorer with Norway's Ragnhild Gulbrandsen and Brazil's all-time leader in the competition.
 
However just as Brazil thought they would coast into the semis, a defensive slip kept the match alive and cost them their first goal of the tournament when lightning fast Aussie forward de Vanna intercepted a loose back pass and rounded goalkeeper Andreia for her fourth World Cup goal on 36 minutes.
 
Australia piled on the pressure in the second half and stunned the South Americans on 68 minutes as midfielder Colthorpe headed a hopeful ball past the stranded Andreia.
 
But as extra-time beckoned, Brazil's forwards put together a devastating combination rounded off by Cristiane, whose swivel and curled shot into the top right corner was a contender for goal of the tournament.
Source:
Agencies
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