Football: England beat Norway to reach quarter-finals of the Women's World Cup

England's players celebrate a victory over Norway during the Fifa Women's World Cup 2015 round of 16 match.
England's players celebrate a victory over Norway during the Fifa Women's World Cup 2015 round of 16 match.PHOTO: AFP

OTTAWA (AFP) - Second-half goals from Steph Houghton and Lucy Bronze booked England's passage to the quarter-finals of the Women's World Cup on Monday with a 2-1 win over Norway.

England had fallen behind to a 54th-minute goal for 1995 champions Norway off a Solveig Gulbrandsen header. But seven minutes later, English captain Houghton equalised and Bronze scored the winner on 76 minutes at Ottawa's Lansdowne Stadium. England, who have never before won a knockout game at the World Cup, next plays Canada on Saturday in Vancouver.

England coach Mark Sampson made four changes to his lineup with midfielder Katie Chapman, defenders Laura Bassett, Bronze and Claire Rafferty all coming on.

But in a drab first half, Norway had the most chances, with Karen Bardsley superbly denying Isabell Helovsen early as England struggled in the Ottawa heat. Back after the break, Norway broke the deadlock with Gulbrandsen, at 34 years the most experienced member of the Norwegian team, heading in off a corner for a goal which was confirmed by goalline technology.

Houghton headed sixth-ranked England level again seven minutes later following a Fara Williams corner. And Bronze added the second with 14 minutes to go following good work from Jill Scott and Jodie Taylor which allowed the defender to fire a powerful shot into the back of the net that goalkeeper Ingrid Hjelmseth got a hand upon but could not keep out.

England have never gone beyond the quarter-final in their three previous appearances, in 1995, 2007 and 2011 so had never captured a knockout game before. The World Cup has a last-16 round for the first time as the tournament has been expanded to 24 teams.

England came back from their opening-match defeat by France by beating Mexico and Colombia in their two other group games. European runners-up Norway, Olympic champions in 2000 and World Cup winners in 1995, now head home.

The Norwegians, ranked 11th, finished second in Group B and held Germany, two-time champions, to a 1-1 draw last week. Colombia will be bidding to create more upsets when they take on footballing giants the United States in their last 16 match in Edmonton later Monday.