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Laura Bassett Own Goal Ends Lionesses' World Cup... And Brings A Totally Unpredictable Reaction

02/07/2015 10:17 BST | Updated 02/07/2015 11:59 BST

The Lionesses suffered a heartbreaking defeat on Wednesday when an own goal ended their dreams of a World Cup victory, but the team's efforts have transcended far beyond the football pitch as the players put women's football on the map.

Everyone is talking about women's football, and the reactions - particularly in the face of such a close defeat in yesterday's semi-final - have been nothing but positive.

When Laura Bassett's own goal in stoppage time put England 2-1 to Japan, scuppering the team's chances of reaching the World Cup final, the pain felt by the players resonated across the nation.

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.

Women's football is given a fraction of the coverage that their male counterparts receive and yet the men's team has not reached a World Cup semi-final since 1990 in Italy.

While at first many of us would have struggled to have told you when the women's World Cup was taking place, let alone its key players, the nation just cannot stop talking about women's football.

laura bassett

Laura Bassett is visibly upset following England's defeat during FIFA Women's World Cup semi-final match against Japan

The Lionesses' roar during the Canadian tournament travelled across the Atlantic Ocean and English fans, many of whom are new to the competition, have shown their support in the thousands.

The FA's Director of Women's Football, Kelly Simmons, sums it up pretty well:

The Lionesses are proud of their performance, and so they should be.

The consensus among their male counterparts is also that they should hold their heads high.

And the rest of the reactions from both celebrities and the public have been incredibly positive.

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.

SEE ALSO:

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Who Said It, The Lions Or The Lionesses?

FIFA Branded 'Sexist' For Focussing On Alex Morgan's 'Good Looks'

Who's Who In The FIFA Women's World Cup Semi-Final

World Cup Article Mocked For Saying Football Isn't 'A Woman's Place'