AUGSBURG – Emilie Haavi finally broke down Equatorial Guinea's defense in the 84th minute and Norway escaped with a surprisingly close 1-0 win in its opening game at the Women's World Cup.
The heavily favored Norwegians had hit the post three times Wednesday and looked as if they were going to have to settle for a 0-0 draw before substitute Leni Larsen Kaurin broke free on the right and passed to Haavi low in an open center.
"I had a feeling we could have won the game after all," Equatorial Guinea coach Marcello Frigerio said. "The country is new to all this. It is a completely new adventure."
The game could have turned as early as the second minute, but the first smooth Norway attack ended when a diagonal shot from Haavi struck the inside of the post. Lene Mykjaland also hit the post in the 55th, as did Isabell Herlovsen two minutes later.
Equatorial Guinea could have taken the lead in the 53rd when the green-braided Anonman forced a one-on-one with goalkeeper Ingrid Hjelmseth, but put the ball wide. She did likewise in the 72nd of an exciting match before 12,928 fans in a half-empty Augsburg Arena.
Norway applied more pressure in the second half, eventually resulting in Haavi's goal.
Equatorial Guinea has been rising fast in the FIFA standings and its play showed why.
Anchored by goalie Miriam and central defender Carolina, Equatorial Guinea showed off fine positioning and skills. Anonman added power and speed up front.
Equatorial Guinea was hurt right before the start of the championship when striker Jade Boho was suspended over Spanish citizenship issues.
"I still think we can progress" to the quarterfinals, Frigerio said ahead of Sunday's game against Australia.