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Norway ease past Spain into semi-finals

Norway 3-1 Spain
Even Pellerud's team swept into the semi-finals of UEFA Women's EURO 2013 as they brushed off the challenge of Spain in Kalmar.

Norway ease past Spain into semi-finals
Norway ease past Spain into semi-finals ©UEFA.com

The pre-match pitch watering produced a magnificent rainbow in the sun at the Kalmar Arena, the pot of gold at full-time belonged to two-time former champions Norway.

The match winner against the Netherlands in the group stage, indefatigable midfielder Solveig Gulbrandsen gave her side a 24th-minute lead which Irene Paredes' unfortunate own-goal doubled just before the break. When Ada Hegerberg scored a magnificent third just after the hour mark, Norway could already cast their minds ahead to Wednesday's game in Norrkoping, their fourth last-four date in as many continental finals, with Jennifer Hermoso's added-time strike barely a distraction.

Though in their away kit of blue, there was no mistaking the signature style of Spain as they controlled possession neatly from kick-off. Perhaps ironically however, their best early chance came from a corner, but after striding forward to connect on the volley, Adriana's promising effort was charged down.

Being starved of possession is not necessarily a problem for Even Pellerud's team, whose hard-nosed pragmatism brought seven points from just three goals in the group stage. Initially, only rarely did they venture towards Ainhoa Tirapu's goal, but when they did, they posed a clear and present danger. Gulbrandsen sent a warning shot over, Hegerberg then stabbed across the face of goal before Gulbrandsen's cross missed everyone and curled into the far corner of the net.

Kristine Hegland might have doubled their advantage in a purple patch for Norway, but a timely defensive block ensured Spain remained in touch. Ignacio Quereda's side resettled into their rhythm, though broke out of it to hit a high ball forward to Hermoso, whose well-directed header was held by the scampering Ingrid Hjelmseth. Paredes' attempted clearance to a free-kick as the interval approached was equally well-placed, but inadvertently so.

Marta Torrejón was also unwitting when she found herself on the trajectory of a viciously-hit Ingvild Stensland drive shortly after the break. From the resulting corner Trine Rønning's header was more deliberate and measured only narrowly wide of the far post.

Hegerberg found the net via the woodwork, but her beautifully-crafted curler deserved its favourable ricochet off the left-hand post as even Tirapu's desperate full-length dive failed to get her near the 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam player's effort.

Substitute Elise Thorsnes nearly added a fourth following a weak punch by Tirapu, but a block saved Spain's pain at missing out on only their second semi-final appearance from being compounded. Indeed, Hermoso's crisp drive beyond Hjelmseth two minutes into added time gave them an uplifting finish to a disappointing evening.

Player of the match: Solveig Gulbrandsen (Norway)

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