France and Norway ground out a draw at the Helsinki Football Stadium which booked both sides into the quarter-finals of UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™.
Lene Storløkken gave Norway a fourth minute lead but a determined France side needed only 12 minutes to find a superb equaliser from Camille Abily before a goalless second half yielded the first draw of the tournament in its 16th match. France go through to a 3 September quarter-final against the Netherlands in Tampere as Group B runners-up, Norway will be one of the two best third-placed teams but will ony discover where they play Finland or the Group C winners on Monday. The result also means Group A third-placed team Denmark still do not know their fate.
Although both sides knew a draw was enough at kick-off, it was clear in the early stages that neither were looking for just one point. France had fallen behind in both their previous games and the trend continued when Norway scored with their very first attack, Isabell Herlovsen breaking down the left flank and Storløkken getting ahead of Sonia Bompastor to steer the cross at waist height past Sarah Bouhaddi.
France's response was not long in coming, with Sandrine Soubeyrand thudding an unstoppable shot against the crossbar before Abily found the net, collecting the ball from Louisa Nécib and working a back-heel off-balance for just long enough to loose off a shot into the bottom corner as she fell into a heap. Quickfire chances then followed for both sides, a glancing header from Solveig Gulbrandsen and an effort from Élodie Thomis that was smothered in her one-on-one with keeper Ingrid Hjelmseth before a frantic first-half tempo finally began to ease.
Norway, the 2005 runners-up who had opened with a 4-0 defeat by Germany before beating Iceland 1-0, initially showed more spark after the interval though neither side were creating clear-cut chances. The lack of urgency led to the game becoming bogged down in midfield, with lone forwards lacking support and being expected to chase the occasional long ball.
France, who came back to beat Iceland 3-1 in their opener before losing 5-1 to group winners Germany, had the better individual slkills, but this was a game where they were not made to count and theuir only scare came with a close-range effort which substitute Leni Larsen Kaurin put wide in a goalmouth scramble following a corner. This is the first time France have made it past the group stage since it was introduced in 1997.