In a game many expected to head into overtime, a costly mistake by England’s Laura Bassett resulted in a 2-1 Japan win.

Japan Defeats England

In a fairly even matchup, the defending World Cup champs were taking on England, the clear underdogs appearing in their first semifinal in World Cup play.

Now, Japan did control the possession time, but England outshot them throughout the match — 15(2)-7(2). On top of this, there was not that much offense in the first half — or throughout the game — with the first two goals coming on penalty kicks. A yellow card to Claire Rafferty resulted in Aya Miyama’s score and a penalty in Japan’s box led to Fara Williams kicking the equalizer before halftime.

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And the offense did not get better in the second half, but England continued to put on the pressure. Despite only four shots, they had an opportunity where Jill Scott pushed a header just wide.

However, the real heartbreaker happened in stoppage time. Japan, who was attempting one last onslaught before the end of regulation, decided to kick a ball into England’s box. The ball came reasonably close to defender Laura Bassett, who tried to kick it over the crossbar. Instead, it went over goalkeeper Karen Bardsley’s head, hit the crossbar and deflected in.

Bassett was visibly shaken up after the match,  with her teammates consoling her. However, coach Mark Sampson had nothing but praise for the defender and the team in general.

“The way Laura Bassett played today and in this tournament, she has epitomized all the values English football fans want to see in that white jersey when you’ve got three lions on your chest — pride, passion, never say die, and play for the team,” Sampson stated after the game. “Okay, she’s hurting now. Tomorrow morning, she’ll wake up. She’ll have 22 teammates give her a hug, tell her how proud we are of her and we’ll all do the same for the whole group.”

On Sunday, Japan will face the U.S. in a rematch of the last World Cup final. On top of this, England takes on Germany for the bronze medal on July 4.

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