Ivory Coast 1-3 Norway: Elephants exit competition with pride after spirited performance
Norway celebrate their opening goal, scored by no.21 Hegerberg

Norway defeated Ivory Coast 3-1 in the Group B of the FIFA Women's World Cup, ensuring a second placed finish and qualification for the next stage, whilst Ivory Coast came bottom of the group.

A brace from Ada Hegerberg did the damage to begin with, before Solveig Gulbrandsen added a third. Ivory Coast got a goal back through the boot of Ange Nguessan, which was deserved after a much improved performance from the group's underdogs.

First half

Despite many thinking that they would be there to simply make up the numbers, Ivory Coast made the better start to the game, going close early on. A bobbling ball in the box wasn't dealt with by the Norweigan defence, leaving Ines Nhery to force Ingrid Hjelmseth into the games first save.

Hegerberg makes it 1-0

However, Norway didn't let this get the better of them and took the lead soon afterwards. A long punt into the penalty area fell kindly to Emilie Haavi, who headed across goal, allowing 19-year-old Ada Hegerberg to slam home at the far post.

Somewhat unexpectedly, Norway didn't begin to command the game after going ahead. Chances were exchanged at each end as Ivorian captain Fatou Coulibaly saw a free-kick spin narrowly wide, before both Hegerberg and Haavi had one on one chances saved by 'keeper Cynthia Djohore.

There was a little more dominance from the favourites as the half wore on, with Hegerberg slicing wide when presented with an open goal by Haavi's clever play. A good pass from Kristine Minde in midfield set Haavi away, and she sped past two remaining defenders, drawing Djohore out of her goal. Good awareness allowed her to square a pass for Hegerberg, whose shot flashed wide under pressure from defenders.

One more key chance came before the break, through Elise Thornses' constant pressure down the right wing. Another overlapping run allowed her to cross for veteran midfelder Solveig Gulbrandsen, who could only shoot over from 12 yards out after an impressive first touch.

Second half

Just as the first half did, the second 45 began with a surprising Ivory Coast opportunity. Ange Ngussean used her pace to come inside from the right, laying off Josee Nahi for a shot. The striker had a powerful first effort blocked by Marita Skammelsrud, before a weaker second one was gobbled up by the goalkeeper.

Norway stretch their lead

Hegerberg finally got her second goal of the game just past the hour mark, doubling her side's lead. Quick play from Norway's midfield culminated in Lene Mykjaland playing her in on goal with a slick through ball, allowing Hegerberg to calmly place the ball into the roof of the net with her left foot.

That goal seemed to break the Ivory Coast resistance, as Norway scored a third just minutes later. A free-kick from the halfway line went a long way across the box before Maria Thorisdottir inadvertedly headed across the six-yard line, allowing an unmarked Gulbrandsen to head in for her 54th international goal.

An unlikely screamer

Just as it looked like Ivory Coast's tournament was fading away with another thrashing, Nguessan gave her whole side a moment to remember with an absolutely superb consolation goal. Taking the ball in from the right hand side, Nguessan fired the ball into the top right hand corner from 25 yards out, with her second goal of the tournament.

They took momentum from this and drove on against a nervy Norway defence, with Nahi the next to shoot, hitting the side netting from close range. However, Norway saw this as a sign to begin defending their lead, and sat back in numbers as they played the game out comfortably until the final whistle.

What next?

Germany beat Thailand 4-0 in the other Group B game, meaning Norway finished as runners up in the group, due to an inferior goal difference.

This see's them through to the competition's last 16 stage, but they will have to wait for the conclusion of other group's to find out who their opponents will be, on Monday next week.

Ivory Coast can look back on the tournament as a learning curve, but will take positives from the fact that they improved from match one up to match three, and it can only do good for women's football in the country.

Final table

Team Played Won Drawn Lost GD Points
Germany 3 2 1 0 14 7
Norway 3 2 1 0 6 7
Thailand 3 1 0 2 -7 3
Ivory Coast 3 0 0 3 -13 0
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