Captain Steph Houghton ‘proud’ of England after suffering World Cup heartache to Japan

Skipper Steph Houghton (left) and her England team-mates celebrate the equaliser from the penalty spot by Fara Williams

Skipper Steph Houghton (left) and her England team-mates celebrate the equaliser from the penalty spot by Fara Williams

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Steph Houghton said she was “proud” of her England team after suffering a heartbreaking World Cup semi-final defeat to Japan.

England were trying to win the match in stoppage time in Edmonton when they were hit by a Japanese counter-attack with central defender Laura Bassett scoring in her own net after trying to cut out a cross.

We have to try to pick ourselves up and play Germany on Saturday

STEPH HOUGHTON

It was the most cruel of endings for Mark Sampson’s side with England having the better of the chances in the Commonwealth Stadium.

Toni Duggan hit the bar in the second half with sub Ellen White going close with her left foot and Sunderland-born midfielder Jill Scott heading just wide.

Japan’s 2-1 win took the through to a final with USA with England now facing Germany in the dreaded third/fourth place play-off on Saturday.

“I am so proud of all the girls and staff,” said Houghton. “We’ve been on an amazing journey.

“Not one player left an ounce of energy on that pitch.

“But that’s football, it can be cruel at times but we can hold our heads high.

“We have to try to pick ourselves up and play Germany on Saturday.”

The South Hetton girl thanked the nation for their support on in an interview on BBC1 and said the players gave everything.

“The squad showed some great character and a desire to win, a passion to play for England,” said the 27-year-old.

“These are a bunch of girls that give everything for the jersey and are great people.

“We have tried to perform and get to the World Cup final that we wanted, but it just wasn’t to be today.”