Schooled Filipinas: PH's FIFA Women's World Cup debut ends in six-nil loss to Norway

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The Philippine women's national football team lost to Norway in their last Group A match, eliminating them from the Round of 16 race. PHOTO: Pilipinas WNT/Instagram
The Philippines will need to wait for the next global showpiece to reach the Round of 16.
This, after world number 12 Norway humiliated the 46th-ranked Filipinas, 6-0, in their crucial Group A match in the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup at the Eden Park Stadium in Auckland, New Zealand on Sunday, July 30 (Manila time).
Norway finished Group A as runner-up with four points on one win, one draw, and one loss for a +5 goal difference (GD), while the Philippines ended its first-ever World Cup stint in fourth place with one win and two losses, good for three points.
Switzerland won the group by claiming five points with a 1-2-0 win-draw-loss record. The Swiss side drew their last fixture against New Zealand – became the first host nation to miss the Round of 16 due to an inferior GD to Norway.
La Nati, Switzerland's moniker, will face Group C runner-up to be determined by the Spain-Japan fixture, with the winner facing the Grasshoppers, Norway women's football team nickname, in the final 16.
Quality and experience gap between the Philippines and Norway is evident, with the latter exploiting every opening the Filipinas gave.
Statistically, the Philippines is behind in all aspects. The Southeast Asian (SEA) country only had one shot on target out of four attempts taken, while Norway shoot 31 times, with 13 of those on the mark.
In Ada Hegerberg's absence, the 1995 World Cup champion remained too much for the Alen Stajcic-mentored footballers.
Hegerberg, the first Ballon d'Or Féminin recipient in 2018 and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Champions League all-time highest goalscorer, missed the Philippine match due to an apparent groin injury. The Lyon superstar even withdrew from her country's previous game against Switzerland because of the said condition.
Without Hegerberg, forward Sophie Román Haug, who plays for A.S. Roma in Italy's Serie A, led the way for the Hege Riise's side with a hat-trick performance. Haug became the second player in the World Cup after Brazil's Ary Borges to score three goals in one game.
FC Barcelona's Caroline Graham Hansen and Chelsea's Guro Reiten joined the Haug assault with a goal each, while defender Alicia Barker had an own goal, rewarding Norway's aggressive offense.
Norway nonetheless showed they're a women's football powerhouse, defeating the debutant in a dominant fashion.
In a pre-match press conference last Saturday, Riise quoted her wards are in attack mode.
"It's simple. We need to go out there and attack," said Riise, a decorated player of her time for Norway, winning the World Cup, UEFA Women's Championship, and Olympics."We are on the offensive. We want to show our better side."
Norway's starting eleven ascertained such statements, and Riise watched them tear the Philippine defense apart from the kick-off until the final whistle.
Haug converted her left-footed volley in the sixth minute from a lofted pass by right-back Thea Bjelde to start the goal barrage for Norway before scoring again 11 minutes later off a header, courtesy of midfielder Vilde Boe Risa's deep pass.
Boasting a two-nil advantage, the Europeans kept Philippine goalkeeper Olivia McDaniel busy with continuous waves of attacks, only for the defense to hold them on.
The Norwegians reaped the reward of their relentless offensive in the 31st minute, as Hansen beat McDaniel's goalkeeping with a superb strike from long range for a 3-0 lead in the 31st minute.
On the other end, the Philippines struggled to create scoring chances and went to defend in most of the opening half. Norway amassed a huge percentage of ball possession, credit to their quick yet precise passing.
Come the second half, the Grasshoppers continued to threaten the defensive line with attacks coming from all flanks. In a span of six minutes, they put the finishing touches.
Outnumbered by the running Norwegians, the pressure seemed to sip in Barker, who accidentally sent inside the Philippines' goalpost, giving Norway a 4-0 lead in the 48th.
Five minutes after, referee Marie-Soleil Beaudoin gave Norway a penalty kick with Reiten pushed by Jaclyn Sawicki inside the box, as the video assistant referee (VAR) review confirmed. Reiten nailed the spot-kick by sending McDaniel to the wrong side.
At the 67-minute mark, Sofia Harrison, who subbed in for Isabella Flanigan in the 57th, received a straight red card after a replay urged the referee that she used excessive force to tackle Bjelde.
Down to 10 women, the Philippines allowed Haul to tally her third goal five minutes into the eleven-minute added time, turning Reiten's cross into a header. The 24-year-old Kløfta native is the fourth Norwegian to score a hat-trick in a World Cup.
The Filipinas searched for a consolation goal, but the Grasshoppers' defense stifled them for a second consecutive clean sheet following their goalless draw against Switzerland.
Stajcic's team, meanwhile, came from a stunning 1-0 victory versus New Zealand, thanks to Sarina Bolden's header, to give themselves a chance to prolong their World Cup stay.
Unfortunately, they couldn't complete the upset against the mighty Norway.
With their exit from the quadrennial tournament, the Filipinas' focus now shifts to the pandemic-delayed 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China in September and the 2024 Paris Olympics Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Qualifiers in October.
Win or lose, the Philippines has nothing to be ashamed of, considering how far the ladies have gone through in the past one and a half years.
In 2022, the then-Malditas flipped the script after qualifying for the World Cup, barging for the first time into the semifinals of last year's AFC Women's Asian Cup.
The Philippines also broke its almost 40-year medal drought in the SEA Games, claiming the bronze in the 31st edition of the biennial meet, before capturing the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Women's Championship trophy – the country's first major football title of any age or gender.

Last Modified: 2023-Jul-31 13.41.46 UTC+0800