Japan Reach WWC Final via Own Goal

The English have a history of heartbreaking losses at the World Cup, but it’s hard to imagine a more devastating way to lose than England managed against Japan in Wednesday’s semifinal match at the 2015 Women’s World Cup.

With the score knotted at 1-1 in the 92nd minute, Japan rushed forward on the counter and sent a low cross into the box. English defender Laura Bassett attempted to clear the ball but insteadtragically redirected it right under her own bar and into the goal, giving Japan a 2-1 victory and a place in the final against the United States.

England manager Mark Sampson and captain Stephanie Houghton spoke of the shocking developments at the end of the match with BBC Sport:

One of the iconic images from this year’s World Cup will be a distraught Bassett, covering her face and overcome by emotion while being consoled by teammates, which is a reminder of just how true the old cliche “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” is.

 The Three Lionesses came out absolutely buzzing in the second half, just missing the net on several occasions and even hitting the crossbar with a shot. They looked more likely to notch the game-winning goal than Japan, but tragedy struck in stoppage time. Bassett’s deflection went into the net and gave Japan a win that was truly against the run of play.

England will now face Germany in the third-place game Saturday, while Japan will take on the United States in the final Sunday night. For the Japanese, Wednesday’s game may serve as a bit of a wake-up call, as their performance against England won’t hold up against an in-form U.S. squad that just beat Germany 2-0.

On the other hand, the Japanese proved an old adage true Wednesday: It’s better to be lucky than good.