WUHAN, China (AFP) - Norway sent hosts China packing and Brazil did the same to Australia as they clinched their places in the women's World Cup semi-finals on Sunday.
A defensive howler put paid to Chinese dreams as they lost 1-0 to traditional powerhouse and former champions Norway in Wuhan, while the Brazilians ended the Australian fairytale 3-2 in Tianjin.
Norway now travel to northeastern Tianjin to play defending champions Germany on Wednesday while Brazil make the trip to eastern Hangzhou to face off against the top ranked United States on Thursday.
China had only themselves to blame for not upsetting Norway, who won the tournament in 1995.
They had most of the first-half possession only to see their hard work go to waste when Wang Kun's hesitation in the 32nd minute let Isabell Herlovsen collect the ball in the box and fire it into the roof of the net.
"The game was very tight and we managed to score because they made a mistake," said Norway coach Bjarne Berntsen. "Sometimes tight games like this are decided on mistakes like that.
"China played like we expected them to," he added. "They had five midfield and just one up front. That showed they had a lot of respect for us."
China had plenty of chances to level but once again strikers Ma Xiaoxu and Han Duan failed to deliver, squandering what came their way as the renaissance under Swedish coach Marika Domanski-Lyfors ground to a halt.
After the match Domanski-Lyfors suggested she could step down after failing to meet her target of taking China to the last four.
"I have to think about whether I will be coach for the Olympics," she said. "Whether I am coach or someone else is coach, I think this team is great. I love this team."
Despite the error by 21-year-old Wang, Domanski-Lyfors praised her team for shutting down Norway and doing everything that was asked of them, except score goals in front of a raucous crowd at a packed Wuhan Sports Center Stadium.
"We played great defensively and they only had one shot on goal," she said.
"It was an individual mistake that cost us but these things happen. Norway are one of the most efficient teams in the world and if they get just one chance, they take it."
In a pulsating encounter in Tianjin, Brazil ended Asian interest in the tournament but needed some magic to subdue Australia.
The Samba Girls were 2-0 up in 23 minutes but were pegged back by Lisa de Vanna and Lauren Colthorpe before Cristiane settled the tie with a classy strike on 76 minutes.
"We relaxed a little bit and Australia equalised but after that our team controlled the game," said Brazil coach Jorge Barcellos. "We were very happy with the winning goal."
The Matildas, ranked 15th to Brazil's seventh, were always going to be up against it and their task looked mountainous in the fourth minute when Formiga curled a shot in off the bar.
With Australia struggling to settle, things went from bad to worse when Kate McShea dragged down Renata Costa in the box and Marta converted the penalty for her fifth goal of the tournament.
But just as Brazil looked to be coasting, de Vanna intercepted a loose back pass and rounded goalkeeper Andreia on 36 minutes.
Australia piled on the pressure in the second half and stunned the South Americans on 68 minutes when midfielder Colthorpe headed home.
But as extra-time beckoned Brazil dug deep and Cristiane settled matters, curling a shot into the top right corner.
|11||L. Larsen Kaurin|
|Coach: B. Berntsen|
for L. Larsen Kaurin 64'
for S. Gulbrandsen 75'
for I. Herlovsen 90+3'
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