2015 WWC: Japan 2 – England 1: Heartbreak For The Lionesses

4 Jul

This picture kinda sums it up, doesn’t it?

What a heartbreaking loss for England especially since they’d been doing so well both in the tournament and this match. It’s almost a moot point to recap the game now since everyone is well aware of what happened. This will be very brief so it gets up before England plays Germany for third place in a few hours. Not to mention, it’s painful to write about.

Line Ups

England:

Bardsley, Rafferty, Williams, Houghton, Bassett, J.Scott, Moore, Bronze, Chapman, Duggan, Taylor.

Japan:

Kaihori, Iwashimizu, Kumagai, Sameshima, Sakaguchi, Miyama, Kawasumi, Ohno, Utsugi, Ogimi, Ariyoshi.

Both teams fought furiously with Japan drawing first blood – a 33′ minute penalty taken by Aya Miyama. However, England drew even a scant 7 minutes later with a penalty scored by Fara Williams. Both teams battled desperately looking for a second goal in regular time. I was pretty sure it would go to extra time when the unthinkable happened. At 90+2, defender Laura Bassett was trying tried to intercept a cross and scored an own goal. I shrieked “OH MY GOD!” so loud I think I scared the neighbors.

 

That was such a fucking painful way for a great team and a great player to go out of this tournament. Unlucky and cruel. As you can imagine, she was inconsolable.

Everyone felt that pain with her. Amazingly, on social media, instead of the pile on one has come to expect, people were almost unanimously supportive. The hashtag #ProudOfBassett started trending. The New York Times covered the response. And the reaction has sparked think pieces about how it is a sexist double standard to feel compassion for her blunder. I dunno, I’d feel bad if that had happened to a male player as well, but I guess not everyone would.

Match Highlights

Quotes

Norio Sasaki, Japan coach
England were more mobile than I was expecting, and we struggled to cause them problems. We didn’t play as well as I’d hoped, but when you qualify, it means you’ve achieved your objective. As for the own goal, I feel sorry for the player, but Yuki Ogimi was right behind her ready to pounce, so I don’t think it would have made a difference either way. We still created the goalscoring opportunity ourselves – for me, it’s more a goal made by Nahomi Kawasumi and Ogimi than an own goal. In the dressing room, Kozue Ando told the players over the phone that she would be at the Final in Vancouver to support them. I think that provided them with the motivation to qualify.

Mark Sampson, England coach
What a tough one to take. I can’t really talk about the match right now, but I can talk about my team, who have sacrificed so much, and who have given sweat, blood and tears, while continuing to smile throughout. The players deserve to go back home as heroes. Laura Bassett is devastated after the own goal, but without her we wouldn’t have been in this semi-final. It was a horrible moment, but you just have to look at how the team has supported her to understand that she’ll be able to get over it. This group is so close-knit that the players are now friends for life. Japan are the world champions, and we saw why tonight. Whatever happens, they always manage to find a way of hanging on in a match, and tonight that helped them to reach the final. But I’ve never seen a team put Japan under the kind of pressure that we did. That’s almost worth a World Cup victory.

And so it was on that heartbreaking note, Japan moved on to their second consecutive World Cup Final vs. the US.

In happier news, FIFA posted this picture of Laura yesterday. I’m glad she’s able to smile again and I hope she has a fantastic game today.

– Lozil

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