|Norway's Emilie Haavi (right) celebrates her goal with Elise Thorsnes against Equatorial Guinea during their Women's World Cup match in Augsburg, Germany on Wednesday, June 29, 2011. (REUTERS/Michael Dalder)
AUGSBURG, Germany -- Equatorial Guinea put up a brave fight in its Women's World Cup debut on Wednesday, but a goal in the 84th minute from Emilie Haavi handed Norway a 1-0 win in the Group D opener for both teams.
The African side entered the competition as the 61st-ranked team in the world, making it the lowest-rated team to ever play in a Women's World Cup.
But Equatorial Guinea made things very difficult for Norway, which is ranked ninth in the world, by pushing the Norwegians back and creating a number of chances for striker Genoveva Anonman.
Haavi had a great opportunity to put Norway ahead inside of two minutes when she hit the post from inside the penalty area after a turnover by the Equatorial Guinea defence.
Outside of the early chance, Norway managed to do little in attack in the first half, and Anonman nearly put her team ahead in first-half stoppage time when she got into the box on the right and drilled a shot straight into the chest of Norway goalkeeper Ingrid Hjelmseth.
The second half saw Norway come out attacking with Isabell Herlovsen going close from 12 yards before Herlovsen set up a chance for Lene Mykjaland, which struck the post.
Norway continued to be frustrated by missed opportunities three minutes later when a scramble in front of the Equatorial Guinea net led to Herlovsen hitting the post from close range.
But the breakthrough finally arrived for Norway six minutes from time with Leni Larsen Kaurin sending a right-wing cross to the front of goal which was tipped by Equatorial Guinea goalkeeper Miriam. The ball then fell into the path of Haavi and she easily slotted it into the empty net.
Norway would have been expecting a much bigger result prior to the game, but after a tough battle from the African side the team will be pleased just to escape with three points.
Both sides return to Group D play on July 3 with Equatorial Guinea facing Australia and Norway meeting Brazil.