Freak own goal ends England women's World Cup dream

  • 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
    reigning champions.

    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.


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