England were knocked out of the World Cup on Wednesday evening, the Lionesses losing to Japan 2-1 in the semi-finals of the tournament in Edmonton, Canada.
An own goal by Laura Bassett in stoppage time against the run of play robbed England's women of a place in the final after a second half dominated by the team in white.
A first half penalty by Fara Williams after a dubious fall leveled the score following a Japanese penalty tucked home by captain Aya Miyami.
England came close to extending their lead in the second half, Toni Duggan rattling the bar before Ellen White drew a smart save from Japan stopper Ayumi Kaihori. As extra time approached, a rare break from Japan down the right saw Bassett's clearance loop over Karen Bardsley and into the net off the crossbar.
Speaking after the game, coach Mark Sampson said: "It really is heartbreaking. I think we have to first and foremost congratulate the players for an incredible tournament. Laura Bassett's name is on that scoresheet but she has epitomised the team. She has been courageous, strong and she doesn't deserve that [to score an own goal]."
The 32-year-old Welshman added: "She is a hero, an absolute hero, that is how she will be remembered. I've told them it's OK to cry, they left everything on the field and it's a really tough way to go out. I'm so proud of them. We came here as a huge underdog with the weight of a nation on our back. We had critics and they have inspired a nation and they deserve to go home as heroes."
A crowd of 31,467 watched Japan progress to Sunday's showpiece in Vancouver where the 2011 champions will meet the USA. England lost their opening match in the tournament to France, but fought back with a succession of four 2-1 victories, earning the team a spot in the semi-finals.
Toni Duggan's effort hits the bar! https://t.co/jnrEWbuGr9July 2, 2015
At least they've raised the profile of women's football and have made us more proud than the men probably ever will. #Lionesses— francesca (@diernamite) July 2, 2015
Hold your heads high, #Lionesses. You did us all so proud. ❤️— DIVA Magazine (@DIVAmagazine) July 2, 2015
Regardless of that last 30 seconds. Girls. You've done yourself and your country proud. Heads should be held high ⚽️ #Lionesses— bethany england (@Bethany_Eng11) July 2, 2015
Regarding the pens 2 controversial decisions but women showing men how to react - accept refs decision and get on with the game #Lionesses— John Bishop (@JohnBishop100) July 2, 2015
Howay The Lasses!!
D— antanddec (@antanddec) July 1, 2015
Come on England!!!! #Lionesses— Jkcorden (@JKCorden) July 1, 2015
COME ON ENGLAND!!!July 1, 2015
Good luck to the England #Lionesses tonight. Do us proud.— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) July 1, 2015
Here we go.. Come on England! #Lionesses— Clare Balding (@clarebalding) July 1, 2015