Laura Bassett’s well-intentioned
interception in the 92nd minute was the
difference as Mark Sampson’s ladies
crashed out of the tournament to the
A freak own goal from Laura
Bassett in injury time sent
England crashing out of the
Women’s World Cup to
Japan on Thursday morning.
In a controversial first half
both sides traded penalties
before England took the game to the reigning world
champions in the second 45, hitting the crossbar
twice with the score at 1-1.
However, with Mark Sampson’s side pushing for a
late winner, they were caught on the break and
Bassett’s desperate challenge saw her interception
send the ball spiralling into Karen Bardsley’s net,
setting up a repeat of the 2011 Japan – USA final.
England began brightly and Jodie Taylor was
unfortunate to see a fierce snapshot whizz just past
the far post from a similar position as her
matchwinning goal against Canada.
Japan, the heavy favourites, initially showed little to
worry Sampson’s side but a moment of panic from
Claire Rafferty led to a penalty for Norio Sasaki’s
Replays showed the decision to award a penalty was
dubious, with the push on Saori Ariyoshi occurring
just outside of the box but it mattered little as Aya
Miyami converted emphatically.
Despite falling behind, England responded positively
and their strength from set-pieces told as Steph
Houghton pounced on a loose ball and drew a foul in
the box. Again, the decision was debatable but it gave
Fara Williams the chance to level the scores.
The Liverpool midfielder remained just as cool as
her counterpart, firing the spot-kick low into the
bottom right corner.
The half-time break gave both sides the chance to
take stock but it was the Lionesses who emerged the
more positive side.
And after 60 minutes, with Taylor’s race run, Duggan
moved into a more central position and the
Manchester City star rattled the crossbar with a crisp
strike from the edge of the box.
The Lionesses were clearly growing in confidence and
substitute Ellen White was the next to go close,
drawing Ayumi Kaihori into a smart full-length save
for a corner.
And it was a corner that saw England almost double
their lead as Jill Scott’s powerful header slid just
wide of the far post.
With the underdogs on top Rafferty saw her high,
lofted cross drop onto Kaihori’s bar and even a raft of
substitutions couldn’t stop the English momentum.
But it was to end in disaster as a Japanese break in
the 92nd minute led to a four-on-four counter and a
devilish cross that required intervention from
The Notts County centre-back, so dependable
throughout, saw her desperate lunge skew the ball up
and over Bardsley and in off the bar.
With just moments left, England couldn’t recover and
bowed out of a thrilling World Cup run. They meet
Germany in Saturday’s third-place play-off.