Despite missing one of the top players in the world, Norway found a way to open the 2019 Women’s World Cup with a convincing victory.
Without star striker Ada Hegerberg, Norway still managed to defeat Nigeria 3-0 on Saturday in Group A action in Reims, France.
Hegerberg made the decision to quit Norway’s national team two years ago to protest inequality between men’s and women’s soccer and is skipping the World Cup.
The 23-year-old striker has said it’s not about money, but more about an issue of respect and opportunity for women that stems from a dispute with the country’s soccer federation about how women’s soccer is treated.
Norway will definitely miss Hegerberg during the tournament, as she was the first-ever female winner of the Ballon d’Or in 2018 and has scored 130 goals in 105 games over her five seasons with the French club Olympique Lyonnais.
But Norway survived her absence Saturday with three first-half goals. Guro Reiten (17th minute), Lisa-Marie Utland (34th minute) scored goals for Norway, and Nigeria’s Osinachi Ohale (37th minute) scored an own goal.
Norway moves on to face France, which is ranked No. 4 in the world, on Wednesday at 3 p.m. EST in its second match of the group stage.
France, the host of the 2019 Women’s World Cup, began the tournament with a dominant 4-0 win against South Korea on Friday.