Austria 1-0 Norway: Billa takes Austria into last eight
Friday, July 15, 2022
Nicole Billa's first-half header proved enough for Austria to hold off Norway and secure second place in Group A, plus a spot in the quarter-finals.
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Austria reached the knockout rounds of the UEFA Women's Championship for the second tournament in a row as Nicola Billa's precise header proved enough to secure second place in Group A at the expense of Norway.
12' Pettersen pushes Feiersinger shot onto bar
37' Billa heads in Hanshaw cross
72' Makas fires straight at Pettersen
89' Zinsberger palms Ildhusøy shot onto bar and over
Match in brief: Billa brings joy to Austria
With Norway needing all three points to overtake their opponents and claim second place in Group A, they might have been expected to begin with the greater urgency. Instead, Austria were the first to threaten, Laura Feiersinger's volley from the edge of the area fumbled onto the crossbar by Guro Pettersen.
Verena Hanshaw then flashed a shot over the bar as Austria continued to keep the Norwegians pushed back, Pettersen getting down smartly to push out Billa's fierce cross-shot. Austria's No15 would not be denied, however, and moments later she met Hanshaw's perfectly flighted cross with a glancing header to break the deadlock.
Pettersen had to save at her near post from Julia Hickelsberger-Füller to keep Norway in touch at the break, with Guro Bergsvand blocking another effort from the same player soon after the restart as the pattern of the game remained the same.
Ada Hegerberg did scuff one shot wide, but Norway were struggling to find a way through Austria's well-organised defensive shape, while at the the other end Austria were having no such problems, Barbara Dunst and Billa both firing straight at Pettersen when well placed.
As the match entered its closing stages, Austria continued to look comfortable as they protected their lead, and substitute Lisa Makas might have made sure – only to drill a shot too close to Pettersen seconds after her introduction.
It mattered little, although it took a fine late stop from Manuela Zinsberger to keep out Celin Bizet Ildhusøy, the goalkeeper palming her shot onto the bar and behind before Austria could breathe easy.
Player of the Match: Nicole Billa (Austria)
"Led Austria's attacking line with an excellent work ethic. Set up a quality platform to build up attacks and a constant threat."
UEFA Technical Observer panel
Joanna Kozak, Austria reporter
Job done for Austria, who fought for the quarter-finals from the first minute. They were bold and adventurous, and that dominant play brought them a lead they never looked like losing as they continued to look the side most likely to score the second goal of the night. For the second EURO in a row, Austria are in the quarter-finals, and next up it's Germany.
Philip O'Connor, Norway reporter
A disappointing end to a tournament that began so brightly for Norway with that 4-1 win over Northern Ireland which seemingly set them up for a successful campaign, only for them to come totally unstuck against England and then fail to find a way past Austria here. With the FIFA Women's World Cup only a year away, there will be plenty of discussion about the best way forward for Martin Sjögren and his squad.
Irene Fuhrmann, Austria coach: "We went into this game saying that we wanted to play our way, using our strengths, and we'd see what happened in the end. It makes me incredibly proud that the players managed to give their all — they played really, really well. It was a fantastic performance and they managed to get through."
Nicole Billa, UEFA Player of the Match: "We have a great coach: she always listens and tries to get our opinions on her decisions. She supports us individually and that's very important; we have some experienced players and some young players and she handles us very well. That's not always easy but on matchdays we're always ready."
Viktoria Schnaderbeck, Austria captain: "It's amazing. This is the second time [we have reached the knockout stage] after 2017. I'm so proud of the team, the way we achieved this. There's a long night ahead of us and we'll spend it together."
Martin Sjögren, Norway coach: "We feel very empty, the players and the staff. We had high expectations coming into this tournament and we've not been able to meet them. I don't have a good explanation now; I'm not a quitter. I don't think we're a weaker nation than we were but not getting through this group is a huge disappointment. We had bigger ambitions than that, we were aiming for a medal."
Maren Mjelde, Norway captain: "I feel empty. I feel a bit sick, actually. It's not a good feeling at all. It's an empty feeling; it's hard to describe, really, because it ended this way for us."
Ada Hegerberg, Norway striker: "I'm very disappointed on behalf of the team, for all the fans who took the trip to come here and support us, everyone who's been following us at home. Everyone has a responsibility in this, myself included. There has to be a brutal honesty in evaluating everything that's happened in the last few weeks in order to bounce back from this. So we will have to find the answers and we'll have to work on it right away."
- Austria have progressed to the knockout rounds in both their Women's EURO appearances, having reached the semi-finals of EURO 2017 as debutants.
- Billa's goal was the 300th in the history of the Women's EURO group stage.
- It was Billa's 44th strike for Austria, on her 82nd international appearance – and her first at a Women's EURO, after 11 in qualifying.
- The Austrians have won four of their six group stage games and kept six clean sheets in their eight Women's EURO finals matches.
- Having reached the semi-finals or better in nine out of ten Women's EURO tournaments between 1987 and 2013, Norway have been eliminated in the group stage for the second finals in a row.
- Norway have not kept a clean sheet in their last nine EURO finals matches and have failed to score in six of their last seven games at the tournament.
Austria: Zinsberger; Wienroither, Wenninger, Schnaderbeck, Hanshaw; Puntigam; Hickelsberger-Füller (Makas 72), Zadrazil, Feiersinger, Dunst; Billa (Georgieva 88)
Norway: Pettersen; T. Hansen, Bergsvand, Mjelde, Blakstad (Haug 82); Syrstad Engen, Maanum (Bøe Risa 86); Eikeland (Ildhusøy 65), Graham Hansen, Reiten; Hegerberg
Austria take on Group B winners Germany in the second quarter-final, at Brentford Community Stadium on Thursday 21 July.