England crashed out of the Women’s World Cup last night after suffering a heartbreaking 2-1 defeat to Japan thanks to an own goal from defender Laura Bassett in injury time.
The Lionesses looked to have done enough to take their opponents into extra time when a rare Japanese cross was directed into the net by Bassett in a botched clearance that saw the ball hit the crossbar before bouncing over the line.
With no time to respond, England saw their chances of reaching their first World Cup final crumble after two penalties – the first from Japanese captain Aya Miyama before England’s Fara Williams equalised just seven minutes later – had the two sides neck-and-neck for much of the match.
England goalkeeper Karen Bardsley dives to save Bassett’s own goal
As the final whistle went and their defeat was sealed, England’s players flocked to comfort an emotional Bassett who burst into tears at full-time just moments after her own goal.
After the match, coach Mark Sampson said: “Laura Bassett has epitomised this England team this tournament. She has been courageous, strong… she kept this team together. She didn’t deserve that. She’ll be remembered as a hero.”
England captain, Steph Houghton, added, “There are no words to describe it really. The only thing I’ve got to say is I’m so proud of all the girls, all the staff, we’ve been on an amazing journey.”
The Lionesses had received good luck messages from the Duke of Cambridge and David Cameron prior to their match which kicked off at 00:00 GMT.
Japan will now go onto face the USA in Sunday’s World Cup final while England will play Germany in the third-place play-off on Saturday.