CHRISTIAN RADNEDGE in CANADA: England suffered heartbreak right at the death of their FIFA Women’s World Cup semi-final against Japan as Laura Bassett scored an own goal to give the champions a 2-1 win.
The defender put the ball past her own goalkeeper in the second to last minute of stoppage time as Japan go on to meet the USA in the final in Vancouver on Sunday. The match will be a repeat of the 2011 final in Germany when Japan won on penalties.
England began brightly and almost scored within 40 seconds; Jodie Taylor unleashing a half-volley in the box that bounced just wide of the far post.
But Japan began to take control of the game and dominated possession. When they took the lead though it was in fortuitous circumstances.
Saori Ariyoshi ran through on goal past England defender Claire Rafferty who unneccessarily pushed her opponent, giving away the penalty. However TV replays showed the foul was committed outside of the box.
Captain Aya Miyama stepped up and sent Karen Bardsley the wrong way to give Japan the lead.
Just five minutes before half-time though and it was 1-1, with England awarded a penalty of their own. The referee judged Steph Houghton to have been brought down in the box, although replays showed again it was a dubious decision with the England captain arguably getting caught with her own feet.
Fara Williams slotted away the resulting spot-kick to equalise and give England hope going into half-time.
Mark Sampson’s began the second half in high spirits and almost took the lead when Toni Duggan’s well taken half-volley rattled the Japan bar just after the hour mark.
Both teams pressed forward but it was England who ended up with more chances. Jill Scott sent a header wide when she really should have hit the target.
Those missed chances came back to haunt England in the most sickening way when Bassett attempted to clear a cross in stoppage time and sent the ball over Bardsley and over the goal line.
Although it bounced back out, the goal line technology showed the damage had been done – and Japan went on to win and set up their final clash against the USA in the final on Sunday.
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