Fri, Sep 14, 2007 - Page 22 News List

Norway come from a goal down to defeat Canada

AFP , HANGZHOU, China

Captain Ane Stangeland Horpestad struck a late winner as former champions Norway rallied from a goal down to beat Canada 2-1 in their opening women's World Cup game on Wednesday.

The Norwegians, among the favorites to win the fifth World Cup, fell behind in the Group C tie after 33 minutes when Christine Sinclair, Canada's lethal striker, launched a devastating attack.

She crashed through two defenders before laying off a superb ball to teammate Candace Chapman in space in front of goal.

The 24-year-old midfielder, appearing in her first World Cup after missing Canada's 2003 campaign through injury, unleashed a bullet from her right foot that beat the keeper and hit the roof of the net.

Norway went in 1-0 down at halftime but emerged a different team after the break.

Coach Bjarne Berntsen said he told his players to speed up because he believed the Canadians were flagging.

"For the last 10 minutes of the first half we saw that Canada was beginning to get tired," he said. "So we focused on the tempo in the second half and it was the key factor."

Norway drew level in the 52nd minute when Ragnhild Gulbrandsen rose to meet a cross from the right and towered above the Canadian defense to head home.

The team that won the World Cup in 1995 kept up the pressure which culminated in a second goal with just nine minutes left.

From a corner Gulbrandsen once again rose above the defense to hit a powerful header that keeper Erin McLeod did well to stop but could not hold.

Horpestad pounced on the loose ball and steered it into the goal for the decider.

"I think it was only the second goal I have ever scored for my country, but it was an important one," said defender Horpestad, who has won 80 caps for Norway.

Norway meet Australia and Canada play Ghana in the next round of group games tomorrow.

Norway were second in the inaugural 1991 World Cup, won the 1995 edition, came fourth in 1999 and were losing quarter-finalists four years later.

Canada's assistant coach Ian Bridge paid tribute to the victorious Norwegians.

"The determination and guts of the Norwegian side was the difference today," he said.

Canada are appearing in their fourth World Cup. They reached the semi-finals, their best finish, in 2003.

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