The Lionesses’ journey in the FIFA Women’s World Cup continues on Thursday evening (27 June) as they do battle with Norway in the quarter-finals.
The match is set to get underway at 8pm at the Stade Océane in Le Havre.
It took a battling performance from Phil Neville’s troops to reach this stage despite the 3-0 win over Cameroon looking relatively straight forward on paper. Various VAR calls throughout the match saw protests from the Cameroon side but England stayed professional to book their progression with goals from Steph Houghton, Ellen White and Alex Greenwood.
Elsewhere, the Norwegians squeezed past Australia 4-1 on penalties to book their first quarter-final appearance since the 2007 World Cup in China. Isabell Herlovsen gave Martin Sjögren’s side the lead in the first-half before Elise Kellond-Knight equalised late on for the Australians, who also had Alanna Kennedy sent off in extra-time. Norway were flawless from the spot though to set up their tie with the Lionesses.
The recent meetings between the two nations have been relatively even. In the past four matches between the two, England have two wins, with Norway claiming one, with a further draw.
The last time the two met in competitive action was during the last-16 stage of the 2015 World Cup in Canada. Norway took the lead in Ottawa through Solveig Gulbrandsen but a strike from Houghton and an absolute stunner from Lucy Bronze saw the Lionesses run out winners and progress – something they will hope to repeat as they gun for their second-consecutive World Cup semi-final appearance.
England and Barcelona forward Toni Duggan has already suggested that she has been impressed by Norway so far at the tournament and is expecting an exciting match but hopes that their good form ends when the two teams meet in Le Havre.
Talking to FA.com, she said: “I’ve watched them in this tournament and they’ve been brilliant.
“I said in an interview the other day that they’re one of my teams to watch. But hopefully they’re not here too much longer!
“It’s going to be a great game, it really is. A lot of the [Norway] girls play in the WSL and they’ve got some top players, but we can’t write ourselves off because we’ve been producing.”
Despite missing reigning Ballon d’Or winner Ada Hegerberg for the tournament, the Scandinavian outfit have impressed. Caroline Graham Hansen has been particularly eye-catching with her regular displays of skill and pace one of the country’s highlights so far. Forward Isabell Herlovsen has also put in some positive displays during their run to the quarter-finals. The team have a clean bill of health heading into their clash with England.
In contrast, the Lionesses have a few worrying problems to deal with ahead of the match. A virus has been sweeping through the camp, leaving Millie Bright as a doubt. Skipper Houghton could also be restricted to the sidelines after suffering an ankle injury in the win over Cameroon.
Manchester City striker Ellen White will be hoping to continue her sparkling form after plundering four goals already at the finals.
Make sure you tune in to BBC One this evening to watch the match at the Stade Oceane. Coverage gets underway at 7:30pm.