Norway start World Cup campaign with smashing win over shy Thailand

Norway began its Women’s World Cup bid with a comprehensive 4-0 victory against over-matched Thailand Sunday afternoon in Ottawa as Group B play kicked off the second day of the FIFA world championship. Isabell Herlovsen scored twice for the Norwegians, who also got goals from captain Trine Ronning and Ada Hegerberg to record the group opening beatdown.

Thailand, one of the outsiders in the 24-nation field, was making its Women’s World Cup debut. The blue-clad Asian representative gave away both size and experience to their European opponent which has been one of the stronger nations in the history of women’s international play. Thailand started brightly, might well have had an early goal, and competed courageously, but once the Norwegians gained control of midfield the result was never in doubt at Lansdowne Stadium.

Not only did Norway have a height advantage across the field, they also were considerably faster with the ball at their feet which allowed them to isolate Thai defenders for numerous first half one-on-one attacks which created space for crosses and supporting runs. The winners did not often bother to use their height in the penalty area, preferring to keep the ball on the artificial surface rather than relying upon high crosses to create openings.

One of Herlovsen’s goals, in the 34th minute, was a header from Solveig Gulbrandsen cross that should have been better marked but Trine Ronning’s opening goal was a a free kick from 22 meters and Herlovsen’s first was struck along the ground from 12 yards after the Thai defense was split wide oopen by a series of passes.

Teenager Hegerberg tapped home Norway’s fourth from Elise Thorsnes’ run and low cross in the 68th minute although the winners’ precision and pace had dropped markedly after the interval. Maren Mjelde failed to extend the margin seven minutes later when her penalty kick was saved by Thailand keeper Waraporn Boonsing, who dove to her right hand post.

The best Thailand chance came in the fifth minute when Kanjana Sung-Ngoen burst down the right flank and fired a pass across the face of goal. It was too quick for Silawan Intamee to touch into the open net for what could have been a moment of glory. The Thais also created some pressure early in the second half, but were not able to get their shots on target.

Up next for Norway will be a Thursday meeting with Germany, a match which could determine who finishes top of Group B in the opening stage. Thailand takes on Cote d’Ivoire the same day, looking to stay alive in the race for third place and possible passage into the knockout stage of the expanded tournament. The four best third place finishers move forward after the completion of the first round.