EDMONTON, Alberta » Laura Bassett scored into her own net during second-half stoppage time, giving Japan a 2-1 victory over England in a Women’s World Cup semifinal.
The decisive goal Wednesday came when Japan’s Nahomi Kawasumi drove up the right side and sent a cross into the middle for Yuki Ogimi. Bassett reached out with her right foot and caught the ball flush, inadvertently sending it toward her net. The ball struck the crossbar and bounced in just before goalkeeper Karen Bardsley could get across.
The defending champions advanced to play the United States in the championship game at Vancouver on Sunday. It’s a rematch of the 2011 championship game in Germany, when Japan won on penalty kicks after a 2-2 draw.
The U.S. is 24-1-6 against Japan.
“However we played in this game, the fact is, we’re going to the final,” Japan coach Norio Sasaki said through an interpreter. “And I’d like to congratulate the players for that. … We should really cherish this moment that we are going to the final.”
Bassett was inconsolable at the end of the match, lying flat on the ground, her face in the turf. She then needed assistance from teammates and her coach before leaving the field.
“This team can’t be afraid to cry,” England coach Mark Sampson said. “There’s nothing wrong with that at all.”
It was a torturous finish for the sixth-ranked Lionesses, who have made their deepest run in four World Cup appearances. England had never won an elimination game until this year.
“Of course, when there’s a huge disappointment there’s going to be an outcry,” Sampson added. “But it’ll sink in soon what they’ve achieved and how proud everyone is of their teammate … and what we’ve done to put football in our country to a place it’s never been before.”
England will remain in Edmonton to play top-ranked Germany in the third-place match Saturday. Germany lost 2-0 to the United States on Tuesday.
England lost despite controlling much of the second half against the fourth-ranked Japanese. And that was despite what Sasaki had said a day earlier, when he suggested his players were “superior.”
The teams traded penalty kick goals seven minutes apart in the first half.
Aya Miyama opened the scoring in the 33rd minute by driving the ball into the open left corner while Bardsley guessed the wrong way.
The penalty was set up when Mizuho Sakaguchi’s long kick from Japan’s side of the field found Saori Ariyoshi free up the right side. As Ariyoshi got control of the ball, she was pushed from behind by Claire Rafferty.
The Lionesses responded on Fara Williams’ penalty kick in the 40th minute. She threaded a shot just inside the left post, barely out of the reach of diving keeper Ayumi Kaihori.
That penalty came off corner kick to the right of the Japan net. Williams’ kick into the area bounced between four players before Steph Houghton got control, took a step toward the net and went down when Ogimi appeared to catch the back of Houghton’s foot.
England had the Japanese on their heels during a four-minute span of the second half.
Toni Duggan, from just inside the penalty area, had her line-drive kick go off the crossbar in the 62nd minute. A minute later, Ellen White was set up in the middle, and got a shot off that Kaihori punched away.
And in the 66th minute, Jill Scott headed Williams’ corner kick just wide of the left post.
The game was played on Canada Day — the nation’s 148th birthday — in front of a slow-arriving crowd. The attendance was announced at 31,467 in a stadium that holds more than 53,000. The crowd would’ve been would have been much larger had England not eliminated the host country in the quarterfinals last weekend.
The Lionesses have already created a buzz back home as just the third English team — including the men — to reach a World Cup semifinal, joining the 1966 champion and 1990 men’s squads.
England began the day by receiving a royal pep talk from Prince William, who spoke to the players and staff by phone.
Manchester United and English national team captain Wayne Rooney has become a fan. Rooney posted a note of support on his Twitter account Wednesday, writing in part: “We’re all behind you, let’s go one step closer an get to the final.”