Norway scored three first-half goals on the way to an easy win over Nigeria in their opening Group A game at the 2019 Women’s World Cup in Reims.
The 1995 world champions took the lead when Guro Reiten’s shot deflected off Onome Ebi into the net.
Lisa-Marie Utland fired through the hands of keeper Tochukwu Oluehi to make it 2-0 before an own goal by Osinachi Ohale compounded Nigeria’s misery.
Norway are level on points with hosts France, who they face on Wednesday.
Ingrid Hjelmseth, Norway’s 39-year-old goalkeeper, had little to do as Nigeria struggled to carve out chances.
On a bad night for the African champions, defender Faith Michael was carried off on a stretcher after being caught by team-mate Oluehi.
Norway show they mean business
Norway are chasing their first world title for 24 years and Martin Sjogren’s side certainly laid down a marker as they breezed past the group’s lowest ranked team at Stade Auguste-Delaune.
They are without Ada Hegerberg, the first Women’s Ballon d’Or winner, who has refused to play for the national side since 2017 after taking a stand against what she describes as a lack of respect for female players in the country.
Yet with a team featuring Chelsea duo Maria Thorisdottir and Maren Mjelde, they sealed the points with three goals in the space of 20 minutes.
Reiten combined with Caroline Hansen to open the scoring, her shot deflecting off the arm of Ebi, the first African to play in five World Cups, on its way into the net.
Utland doubled the lead with a powerful shot which Norway celebrated with a fake team selfie, before Ohale’s attempted clearance from Isabell Herlovsen’s cross ended up in her own net.
While the Super Falcons now face a battle to stay in the tournament, Norway head to Nice to face hosts France in buoyant mood.
Player of the Match – Guro Reiten (Norway).
‘We will never give up’ – what they said
Norway boss Martin Sjogren: “Our style will be totally different against France. We were on top of the match all the time [here] but against France it will be a totally different match, they are much more attacking than we are.
“We’re going to go a bit deeper, we’ll play as more of a group. We will try to make counter-attacks against France. We have a clear plan for how we’re going to play against them. We know it’s going to be tough, but we have a very good team.”
Norway defender Maren Mjelde: “It’s always great for us defenders and the keeper to keep a clean sheet, it’s an important thing for us.
“We’re going to enjoy this victory a little bit and then we’re going to travel to Nice to meet another world-class team [France].”
Nigeria boss Thomas Dennerby: “When it comes to sport, never ever give up. We have to fight for 180 minutes more, plus added time.
“A game can change in the last minute so we will work very hard for it and I can promise that we’ll never give up.”
Nigeria defender Onome Ebi: “We’re going to go back and look at our mistakes and work on them. The second game will be better than the first, we’ve learned so much from this first game and we’ll come back.”
Why the Super Falcons don’t like Norway – the stats
- Nigeria have conceded more goals than any other nation in Women’s World Cup history (59) – with 19% of those goals conceded against Norway (11 of 59).
- Norway have won their first match at each of their last seven World Cup tournaments (1995 to 2019) since a 0-4 defeat in their opening match in 1991 against China.
- Nigeria’s Onome Ebi appeared in her fifth World Cup tournament (2003, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2019) – only Japan’s Homare Sawa and Brazil’s Formiga have ever appeared in more different tournaments (six each).
- Norway scored three goals in the first half of a Women’s World Cup game for the seventh time – no nation has ever done so more often (USA also seven).
- Norway goalkeeper Ingrid Hjelmseth became only the fourth player to appear at a Women’s World Cup aged 39 or older, after Brazil’s Meg (1995), Nigeria’s Perpetua Nkwocha (2015) and USA’s Christie Pearce (2015).
Norway head for Nice for their second group game where they face hosts France on Wednesday (20:00 BST), while Nigeria are in action against South Korea in Grenoble on the same day (14:00).