Norway’s national women’s football team held off the heavily favoured French team through the first half of their second World Cup match Wednesday night, and lost 2-1 on a penalty kick. Coach Martin Sjögren was nonetheless “extremely proud” of his team’s performance.
“We managed to perform in a very good manner,” Sjögren told state broadcaster NRK after a thrilling second half. It started with a French goal, went on to yield the “gift” of the French delivering an unintentional goal for Norway by none other than star player Wendie Renard, and ended after the French were allowed a penalty kick following a duel between Marion Torrent of France and Ingrid Syrstad Engen of Norway. Engen was ruled to have kicked Torrent instead of the ball, allowing Eugenie Le Sommer to nail a second goal for the French women.
The Norwegian women were mostly upbeat despite the loss, and ended up in second place in their group, behind only France. “I think we were on the same level with France,” Norwegian player Maria Thorisdottir told NRK. “They’re a really good team, but I feel like we showed Norway and the rest of the world that we’re up there with them.” The match attracted an estimated 10 million viewers and played out before a packed stadium in Nice. Norway’s next match will be against South Korea on Monday.