Sport World Cup

Saturday 10 December 2016

Heartbreak for England after Laura Bassett own goal with last kick ends World Cup dream

Published 02/07/2015 | 07:58

England's Josanne Potter, left, and Laura Bassett leave the field after a 2-1 loss to Japan during a semifinal in the FIFA Women's World Cup
England's Josanne Potter, left, and Laura Bassett leave the field after a 2-1 loss to Japan during a semifinal in the FIFA Women's World Cup
Japan celebrates after beating England in the semifinals of the FIFA 2015 Women's World Cup
Japan players celebrate a 2-1 win as England's Ellen White (23) watches following a semifinal in the FIFA Women's World Cup
England's Katie Chapman (16) and Japan's Rumi Utsugi (13) vie for the ball during the second half of a semifinal in the FIFA Women's World Cup
England's Laura Bassett, second from right, is consoled by teammates after Bassett gave up an own goal to give Japan a 2-1 win during a semifinal in the FIFA Women's World Cup
Japan's Rumi Utsugi (13), Mizuho Sakaguchi (6), Yuki Ogimi (17) and Nahomi Kawasumi (9) celebrate a 2-1 win over England in a semifinal in the FIFA Women's World Cup
Japan's Aya Miyama (8) and Mana Iwabuchi (16) celebrate a goal as England's Karen Carney (10) stands nearby during the second half of a semifinal in the FIFA Women's World Cup
England defender Steph Houghton (5) runs down a ball during the first half against Japan in the semifinals of the FIFA 2015 Women's World Cup
A soccer fan of Japan reacts during their FIFA Women's World Cup semi-final soccer match against England
England's Josanne Potter, right, consoles Laura Bassett after a 2-1 loss to Japan in a semifinal in the FIFA Women's World Cup
Japan's Nahomi Kawasumi jumps into the arms of Mizuho Sakaguchi (6) after the team's 2-1 win over England in a semifinal in the FIFA Women's World Cup

Mark Sampson told his players "it's okay to cry" after England's heartbreaking exit from the Women's World Cup.

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And the coach paid tribute to defender Laura Bassett, whose stoppage-time own goal sent Japan into Sunday's final as 2-1 winners.

England had responded to Aya Miyama's penalty by equalising through Fara Williams, also from the spot, but Bassett diverted Nahomi Kawasumi's 93rd-minute cross into her own goal.

 

"Look, Laura Bassett's name's on that scoresheet but she's epitomised this England team this tournament," Sampson told BBC Sport.

"She's been courageous, strong and kept this team together. She didn't deserve that but she'll be looked upon as a hero, an absolute hero. People will remember the Laura Bassett who headed and blocked and tackled and kept this team together."

Midfielder Williams added: "Laura feels she's let everybody down but I'll tell you now, that girl has given everything in this tournament and she should be proud of herself."

Japan's first goal also carried an element of fortune, with Claire Rafferty's foul on Saori Ariyoshi clearly outside the penalty area - as demonstrated by a picture tweeted by the England full-back after the match.

Back-up goalkeepers Siobhan Chamberlain and Carly Telford limited themselves to broken-heart emojis and, asked what he had said to his players, Sampson responded: "Just 'It's okay to cry'.

"They left everything out on that field and it's just a really tough way to go out of the tournament. The team didn't deserve that but I'm just so proud of them.

"We came to this tournament as huge underdogs with the weight of a nation on our backs, the sceptics and critics, and they've really inspired a nation back home. They deserve to go back home as heroes."

Captain Steph Houghton, Bassett's central defensive partner, said: "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."

That journey is not quite over yet, with a third-place play-off against Germany to come on Saturday - the day before defending champions Japan tackle the United States in a repeat of the 2011 final.

Houghton added: "Football can be cruel at times but we'll hold our heads high and try to pick ourselves up to go and play against Germany on Saturday. We want to try and finish third if we can."

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