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Australia sends Norway home early from WWC

Jul 6, 2011 - 8:46 PM Leverkusen, Germany (Sports Network) - Norway's leaving the Women's World Cup after the group stage for the first time.

Kyah Simon scored twice and Australia advanced to the quarterfinals with a 2-1 win over Norway at BayArena on Wednesday.

Elise Thorsnes scored the opener for Norway in the 56th minute, but Simon tied the match one minute later and scored the game-winner with three minutes left.

Australia just needed a draw to advance, while Norway needed a win to overtake the Aussies for second place in the group.

Australia finished second in Group D with the win and play the winner of Group C in the quarterfinals on Sunday. Brazil won Group D with a 3-0 victory over Equatorial Guinea and plays the Group C runner-up Sunday.

"We knew it was a crucial game, and although a draw was enough for us, we always go out to win," Simon said. "Finishing the group stage with a victory will give us a real confidence boost ahead of the next round."

Australia created the first chance inside 10 minutes, but Simon's header was easily collected by Norway goalkeeper Ingrid Hjelmseth and the match remained evenly played through the half-hour mark.

After an injury to Hjelmseth, which resulted in a nearly five-minute stoppage, Norway's Thorsnes forced three saves from Aussie goalie Melissa Barbieri in a six-minute span.

Australia responded with a couple chances of its own late in the half but Lisa De Vanna and Simon were both denied by Hjelmseth, who stayed in the match with what appeared to be an ankle injury.

Norway lacked the urgency it needed in the first half, while Australia stayed compact in the back and picked its chances to push forward well. But the first 45 minutes left everything to be decided in the second half.

Hjelmseth made it to halftime with the injury but Erika Skarbo replaced her at the start of the second half, leaving the Norwegians with less experience - 44 caps compared to 15 - in goal.

But it was Australia captain and goalie Melissa Barbieri who made a huge error in the second half to allow Norway to take the lead.

Norway's Ingvild Stensland played a long pass from the right wing and Barbieri ran to the edge of the box to scoop up the ball as a teammate shielded players from making a play. But Thorsnes slipped in just before Barbieri got the ball.

After knocking the ball toward goal, Thorsnes ran onto the slow roller and hit it into the back of the net from six yards with the goal empty in the 56th.

Norway found the goal it needed to advance, but Australia erased the advantage just a minute later.

Lisa De Vanna won the ball from Norway's Trine Ronning on the left side of the area, then played a pass into the middle of the box. Simon reached the ball in traffic and drilled a curling shot into the bottom right to tie the score.

Simon could have sealed advancement for the Aussies in the 70th, when De Vanna again forced a turnover and set up Simon on the left side, but she fired wide right from 15 yards with just Skarbo to beat.

Ronning nearly made up for her defensive mistake off a corner in the 76th, but she turned a header just over the bar, and Cecilie Pedersen launched a chance off target one minute later as Norway pushed for the winning goal.

Norway came within inches - or less - of finding the winning goal in the 84th, but Ronning's well-struck free kick ricocheted off the crossbar in the upper- right corner.

Australia ended all the suspense with three minutes left in regular time, as Kim Carroll swung a cross in from the right wing and Simon powered a header into the net to seal her country's second straight quarterfinal berth.

"The feeling of disappointment is indescribable," Norway manager Eli Landsem said. "We had hopes of going further, but now we need to head home, and focus on training better and working harder.

"We'll be back, and we'll be a stronger team on our return."