CANBERRA, Australia — Substitute Margunn Haugenes lobbed a 25-yard winning shot, lifting Norway to a 2-1 victory over China on Wednesday for a spot in the women's Olympic soccer semifinals.
China, the World Cup and 1996 Olympic runner-up, was eliminated. The United States earned the other berth in Group B by beating Nigeria, 3-1.
Marianne Pettersen headed the Norwegians in front in the 55th minute, only to see Sun Wen tie the score on a penalty kick in the 74th for her fourth goal of the competition.
Three minutes later, with Norway needing a victory to advance, Haugenes' gem earned the win. She dribbled from outside the penalty area, wheeled and sent a perfect shot into the far corner of the net just under the crossbar.
It was the third time Norway beat China this year, and the Norwegians, third-place finishers at the Olympics four years ago, will meet Germany for a place in the final. The U.S. faces Brazil.
Only a few thousand people were scattered inside the 23,000-capacity Bruce Stadium for such a big game between two of the top four teams in the world. Huge sections of the stadium were empty.
After a tedious first half, the game came alive with a Norwegian goal. Hege Risse swung over a free kick from the left and Pettersen, leaping between two Chinese defenders, guided a glancing header inside the far post.
Two minutes later, China was awarded an indirect free kick near the penalty spot. Sun Wen's shot appeared to be going inside the left post but Kristin Bekkevold stuck out a foot to clear it off the line.
Chinese pressure eventually brought them even. In the 74th minute, Norwegian captain Goeril Kringen blocked a goal-bound shot with her hands and Sun Wen rolled in the penalty kick.
Once Norway took its second lead, it relied on goalkeeper Bente Nordby to secure the victory.