Nicole Billa sends Austria into quarter-finals with victory over Norway

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Nicole Billa dumped twice-champions Norway out of Euro 2022 as Austria booked a quarter-final clash with Germany.

Billa’s first-half header secured a 1-0 win – the Austrians’ first over the Norwegians – at the AMEX Stadium on a night when a draw would have been enough to clinch the runners-up spot in Group A.

It was no more than they deserved as Norway failed to bounce back from their 8-0 mauling by England, and they might have lost even more heavily had it not been for the efforts of goalkeeper Guro Pettersen.

Austria were unfortunate not to take a 12th-minute lead when Pettersen fumbled Laura Feiersinger’s shot on to her crossbar before skipper Maren Mjelde scrambled the ball away.

After a disjointed start, Norway gradually eased themselves into the game but were unable to get star striker Ada Hegerberg or Chelsea winger Guro Reiten on the ball often enough to cause any real damage.

It took a solid save from Pettersen to deny Billa 11 minutes before the break, but there was nothing she could do to keep out the Hoffenheim striker’s header from Verena Hanshaw’s 37th-minute cross as the deadlock was finally broken.

The pattern of the first half was largely repeated after the break, with the Austrians looking more likely to add to their lead rather than surrender it.

Pettersen had to save from Barbara Dunst, Billa, Julia Hickelsberger-Fuller and substitute Lisa Makas in quick succession to maintain the single-goal deficit, although opposite number Manuela Zinsberger thwarted Celin Bizet and Hegerberg at the death.

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