England’s women’s football team were cruelly knocked out of the World Cup at the semi-final stage last night by a freak last-minute own goal.
Defending champions Japan snatched a dramatic 2-1 win over England to set up a women’s FIFA World Cup final against the US here.
England, who struck the woodwork twice in the second half, succumbed after defender Laura Bassett scored an own goal in the injury time.
Japan, who defeated the US in shout-out in the 2011 edition final, will on Sunday in Vancouver face the two-time winners who beat Germany 2-0 in a Tuesday semi-final at Montreal.
Japan went ahead in the 33rd minute when captain Aya Miyama scored a penalty, and England equalised seven minutes later through Fara Williams’ penalty kick.
Two minutes into injury time, defender Laura sent the ball into her own net when she tried to clear a Japanese pass.
“Oh, what a tough one, what a tough one to take,” a red-eyed England coach Mark Sampson said. “I can’t speak about the game. I can only speak about how incredibly proud I am of my group.”
Japan coach Norio Sasaki acknowledged there were several tense moments when England could have scored in the second half.
“But that’s the game of soccer,” Sasaki said through a translator. “And at the end, we were able to obtain such a dramatic goal.”
Nahomi Kawasumi drove up the right side and sent a cross into the middle for Yuki Ogimi.
Bassett was in full stride when she reached out with her right foot, caught the ball flush and inadvertently directed it toward her net.
The ball struck the crossbar and bounced in just before goalkeeper Karen Bardsley could get across.
“As for the own goal, I feel sorry for the player, but Yuki Ogimi was right behind her ready to pounce. So I don’t think it would have made a difference either way,” Japan coach Sasaki said.
“We still created the goalscoring opportunity ourselves — for me, it’s more a goal made by Nahomi Kawasumi and Ogimi than an own goal,” Sasaki said.