The Matildas' World Cup dream is over after a barnstorming and heartbreaking 1-1 (4-1) penalty shootout loss to Norway in their round of 16 clash.

After scoring the goals that got Australia out of their group, captain Sam Kerr fell to Earth in Nice, blasting the Matildas' opening spot kick high and wide in the shootout.

A campaign of setbacks ended in the most depressing way on Sunday morning (AEST), when the Matildas showed their fighting qualities but came up short.

After Isabell Herlovsen's opener, Elise Kellond-Knight drew Australia level with a stunning 83rd-minute equaliser direct from a corner.


In pics: Australia fall to Norway

It was a heartbreaking end to the Matildas' World Cup campaign, going out on penalties to Norway after both sides were inseparable at 1-1 after 120 minutes and a red card for Alanna Kennedy. Check out the pics here.

The Matildas clung on for spot kicks despite Alanna Kennedy's 104th-minute dismissal but Kerr and Emily Gielnik botched their efforts for Australia's worst World Cup result in 16 years.

Caroline Graham Hansen, Guro Reiten, Maren Mjelde and Ingrid Syrstad Engen scored their kicks, with Steph Catley the sole Australian successful from the spot.

"The girls have already gotten around me. I feel like I let the team down but they've been quick to cut that out," Kerr said.

"They fought back hard to get into this game. Fought back hard to get into this entire tournament.

"It's been a roller coaster ride the last few months but I'm proud of these girls.

"We've stuck together and we've had a lot of support."


Watch! Norway shatter Matildas hearts

Australia started strongly but fell foul of the ref and VAR with calls going against them yet managed to hold Norway to 1-1 despite going down to 10...but were undone in the penalty shoot out. Check out the highlights now.

The Matildas' campaign will live long in the memory for the wrong reasons.

Long-term coach Alen Stajcic was sacked within five months of the tournament for overseeing a cultural decline.

Ante Milicic was appointed in February and brought a new energy, but the team lost lead-in friendlies to the USA and Netherlands.

With long-term Matildas Kyah Simon and Laura Alleway on the sidelines, and Clare Polkinghorne and Elise Kellond-Knight suffering injuries through the tournament, Milicic had serious personnel issues.

A first-up 2-1 loss to Italy at the World Cup set Australia a huge task in their second clash with Brazil, but the Matildas responded with incredible heart.

A 3-2 win from two goals down, dubbed the Miracle of Montpellier, kept them alive, and a 4-1 rout of Jamaica served them up a meeting with Norway in the round of 16.

Arriving in Nice as the favourites, both Kerr and Hayley Raso should have given the Matildas an early lead.


Three things we learnt: Norway v Matildas

It was a heartbreaking loss for the Matildas in the Round of 16 penalty shootout against Norway.

Instead, Herlovssen gave the pair a finishing lesson, exposing Australia's weakness in transition when she latched onto Karina Saevik's curling pass to finish expertly.

The Matildas thought they had won a penalty when Maria Thorisdottir leant in to cushion Kerr's bouncing cross with her arm.

To the astonishment of Australian fans, referee Reim Hussein reversed her call after a lengthy video assistant review.

On 59 minutes, Kerr had the ball in the net only for it to be struck out, correctly, for offside.

Still Australia pushed and their equaliser finally arrived from the most unlikely of sources in the most unlikely position.

Kellond-Knight, with just one goal in 108 appearances, struck a low curling corner, which nestled into the net after the ball somehow evaded a throng of players.

In stoppage time, Hansen thought she'd won it when her curler beat the outstretched Lydia Williams, only for the ball to bounce clear by just centimetres off the inside of the post.

The full-time whistle for the end of regulation brought relief to everyone at the Allianz Riviera but there was no end to the chaos on the resumption of play.

Kerr botched a one-on-one chance before Williams kept Australia in it in exta-time, making fine saves from Hansen and Vilde Boa Risa, who also struck the crossbar.

Chances rained for Norway, with senior players Kellond-Knight, Emily van Egmond and Ellie Carpenter joining Kennedy off the pitch as time drew closer.

Alas Australia fell victim in another dreaded shootout, the same fate that befell the team against Brazil at the 2016 Olympics.