Solveig Gulbrandsen nodded the Scandinavians ahead early in the second half, but Mark Sampson’s side responded with a header from captain Steph Houghton and a thunderous 25-yard effort by right-back Lucy Bronze.
This was an historic victory for the Lionesses - their first-ever win in the knockout stages of the World Cup. And it means they will take on Canada, the host nation, in the last-eight in Vancouver on Saturday.
FIFA Women's World Cup 2015
Monday 22 June
Lansdowne Stadium, Ottawa
It could be argued this second round tie was the proverbial game of two halves, as Norway dominated the first period, only for England to get stronger as the game progressed as they came away with a hard-fought victory.
World Cup winners in 1995 and European Championship runners-up last time out, Norway’s world ranking of 11 belies their ability and pedigree at this level - and it was evidenced in their notable 1-1 draw with Germany in the group stage.
They seemed intent on further proving that fact from the outset against England. Even Pellerud’s charges took the game to their opponents from the off and dominated the ball in the early stages.
Fara Williams challenges Gry Tofte
It took a crucial stop from Lionesses goalkeeper Karen Bardsley after just 11 minutes to keep the scores goalless, when Isabell Herlovsen latched onto Gulbrandsen’s through ball, only for Bardsley to rush out and block the shot with her feet.
Kristine Minde then poked an effort wide at the back post after being found by Lene Mykjaland’s deep cross as the Scandinavians attempted to turn the screw.
England had little to show for their efforts in the first half, save from a Katie Chapman header and a wild Fara Williams free-kick.
Laura Bassett shields the ball from Isabell Herlovsen
There was a scary moment for Bronze five minutes before the break when her weak back pass was pounced upon by Ada Hegerberg, but Bardsley refused to be beaten at her near post.
Sampson called Jill Scott from the bench in place of Kirby early in the second half in an attempt to firm up his midfield. But no sooner had the 28-year-old taken up her position at a Norway corner than Gulbrandsen's flick-on put her side ahead.
The midfielder got in front of Williams at the near post and glanced the ball in off the bar. It was no more than her side had deserved given their level of control of the game.
England could have wilted in the scorching heat of the Lansdowne Stadium, but Houghton showed her leadership qualities when they were needed most.
Norway opened the scoring on 54 minutes
Just a few minutes after England fell behind, the 27-year-old peeled off to the far post to get her head onto Williams’s corner and thump the ball into the far post to equalise.
Houghton’s goal lifted her troops and England grew into the contest much in the same way they have grown into this tournament. Carney sent a left-sided cross into the box which Chapman was unable to reach and Scott’s angled drive ricocheted off a crowd of bodies and away.
When Norway did regain the upper hand, Bardsley was on-hand once more to deny Hegerberg.
Scott’s introduction had changed the game, as England began to take control of the midfield area – and it was no surprise the substitute was involved in the winning goal.
Steph Houghton heads England level
She interchanged well with substitute Jodie Taylor on the right before the Portland Thorns striker laid the ball off invitingly for Bronze.
The right-back hit a sumptuous angled first-time drive from 25 yards which Ingrid Hjelmseth got a hand to, but the shot had too much power and the keeper could only push it into the roof of the net.
It might have got even better for England when Carney was set up by Chapman, but her well-placed shot was turned behind for a corner.
Hegerberg, the talented Lyon youngster, came close to levelling late on but her strike was too high and sailed over Bardsley’s goal.
England will travel to Vancouver on Tuesday to begin their preparations for Saturday’s quarter final against Canada.
England (4-3-3): 1 Karen Bardsley (Manchester City); 12 Lucy Bronze (Manchester City), 5 Steph Houghton (captain; Manchester City), 6 Laura Bassett (Notts County), 3 Claire Rafferty (Chelsea); 11 Jade Moore (Birmingham City), 4 Fara Williams (Liverpool), 16 Katie Chapman (Chelsea); 10 Karen Carney (Birmingham City), 18 Toni Duggan (Manchester City), 22 Fran Kirby (Reading).
Substitutes: 8 Jill Scott (Manchester City) for Kirby 54, 19 Jodie Taylor (Portland Thorns) for Duggan 63
Substitutes not used: 2 Alex Scott (Arsenal), 7 Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal), 9 Eniola Aluko (Chelsea), 13 Siobhan Chamberlain (Arsenal), 14 Alex Greenwood (Notts County), 15 Casey Stoney (Arsenal), 17 Jo Potter (Birmingham City), 20 Lianne Sanderson (Arsenal), 21 Carly Telford (Notts County), 23 Ellen White (Notts County).
Goals: Houghton 61, Bronze 76
Head coach: Mark Sampson
Norway: 1 Ingrid Hjelmseth, 3 Marita Skammelsrud Lund, 4 Gry Tofte Ims, 6 Maren Mjelde, 7 Trine Ronning (C), 8 Solveig Gulbrandsen, 9 Isabell Herlovsen, 13 Ingrid Moe Wold, 17 Lene Mykjaland, 19 Kristine Minde, 21 Ada Hegerberg
Substitutes: 2 Maria Thorisdottir for Ronning ht, 16 Elise Thorsnes for Minde 70, 5 Lisa-Marie Utland for Wold 87
Substitutes not used: 10 Anja Sonstevold, 11 Nora Holstad Berge, 12 Silje Vesterbekkmo, 14 Ingrid Schjelderup, 15 Marit Sandvei, 18 Melissa Bjanesoy, 20 Emilie Haavi, 22 Hege Hansen, 23 Cecilie Fiskerstrand
Goals: Gulbrandsen 54
Head coach: Even Pellerud
Referee: Esther Staubli
Read more at http://www.thefa.com/news/england/womens/2015/jun/world-cup-canada-ottawa-second-round-norway-match-report#Skf5TFaMbUZJPyBD.99
– but the sailors praise the new boats