Wednesday 06 March 2019, 21:02

Norway triumph as France 2019 sides prepare in Portugal

Norway won the 26th Algarve Cup thanks to a 3-0 defeat of surprise packages and last-minute guests Poland in the final.

The competition featured seven of the teams who will run out at the FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019 and revealed much about their form in the countdown to the big event.

Did you know?

  • Norway won the Algarve Cup for a fifth time, 21 years after their last tournament triumph (1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2019).

With less than 100 days to go to the World Cup, Martin Sjogren’s charges look the most secure and mature of all the sides that were on show in the Algarve. The champions have a lot going for them, not least the goalscoring ability of Isabell Herlovsen and the understanding between forwards Emilie Haavi and Caroline Hansen, who was named player of the tournament.

Final standings

  1. Norway

  2. Poland

  3. Canada

  4. Sweden

  5. Scotland

  6. Denmark

  7. Spain

  8. Switzerland

  9. Iceland

  10. Portugal

  11. The Netherlands

  12. China PR

Report card

  • Scotland were one of the standout teams, and coach Shelley Kerr can take great satisfaction from the attitude and the performance of her team. Competitive, combative, focused and determined, both in their mindset and their play, the Scots showed they are on the right track for France.

  • Canada and Sweden settled their battle for third place in a penalty shoot-out. Both sides showed they are making progress, having each brought in a clutch of talented youngsters to complement the many attributes offered by their more experienced players.

  • The Netherlands had a disappointing tournament, losing all their games except for their last, which ended in a draw, and scoring just the one goal. The reigning European champions were at full strength when they went down to Spain, while the second string lost out to Poland, leaving coach Sarina Wiegman with plenty to ponder in the months ahead.

  • China PR lost 3-1 to Norway, 1-0 to Denmark and suffered a shoot-out defeat to the Dutch following a 1-1 draw in regulation time. Coach Jia Xiuquan’s experiments failed to yield results and his task now will be to come up with solutions.

Leading performers

Mimmi Larsson’s three goals left her as the tournament’s joint top scorer with Spain’s Jenni Hermoso. The 24-year-old Swede is an instinctive penalty-box operator and linked up to great effect with Kosovare Asllani, with the pair forming a strike partnership that promises much for the Scandinavians.

Though she will not be at France 2019, Poland forward Ewa Pajor had a tournament to remember. Her speed and classy finishing undid both Spain and the Netherlands and helped the Poles claim an unexpected place in the final.

Nahikari Garcia staked her claim to a starting place in the Spain attack. Young and slight of frame, the hard-working forward created space for her team-mates, drove her side forward, and showed plenty of maturity and power as La Roja put their 4-4-2 formation to the test.

What they said

“It’s the players that make systems work. We need to have options and alternatives, and the Algarve Cup is an opportunity for us to try them out. We’re going away with the knowledge that we have to be more consistent at set-pieces and against teams who like to play on the counter against us. We have to be more effective in the final third of the pitch, be more determined, faster, and have a clearer idea of what we want to do. We’re taking shape as a team that likes to keep the ball but which can also exploit space and be direct.” Spain coach Jorge Vilda