England Women go out of World Cup after cruel 2-1 defeat to Japan

Fara Williams celebrates after putting England level from the  penalty spot against Japan
Fara Williams celebrates after putting England level from the penalty spot against Japan

England are out of the World Cup after a cruel last-gasp semi-final defeat to Japan.

The Lionesses were just seconds away from extra-time with the score locked at 1-1 when disaster struck with a Laura Bassett own goal.

Japan made a late counter-attack in the second of three added minutes of stoppage time when Bassett made a desperate lunge to cut out a cross by the holders.

But the central defender’s interception looped over keeper Karen Bardsley and went in via the crossbar.

England had time to kick-off and made no last attempt to attack but there time was up and their World Cup dreams over.

It was the most heartbreaking of ends to a game England had the better of against the reigning champions.

The first half was dominated by two penalties and two dubious ones at that.

Captain Aya Miyama’s spot-kick put Japan ahead just after the half-hour mark, when she sent Bardsley the wrong way after Claire Rafferty had pushed the Japanese attacker on the edge of the box.

England’s equaliser was even more questionable with skipper Steph Houghton going down in the area after the slightest of touches following a corner.

But there was no hesitation from the New Zealand referee who pointed yo the spot and Fara Williams did the rest, her decisive shot from 12 yards going inmto the keeper’s right corner.

England put in a sstrong second-half performance and went close three times in a five-minute purple patch.

Striker Toni Duggan hit the Japan bar on 62 minutes with a stunning shot from 18 yards after being found by Northumberland girl Lucy Bronze.

Sub Ellen White let fly with a left-footer from the edge of the area two minutes later only for the Japanese keeper to make a flying full-length diving save to her right.

And soon after Sunderland-born midfielder connected powefully with a great Williams corner from the right with her header going agonisingly wide of Japan’s unguarded right-hand post.

The woodwork again denied England when Rafferty’s looping cross hit the crossbar.

England though looked like taking Japan into extra-time only for Bassett to suffer the most cruel of misfortune.