By Binjal Shah
The England Lionesses had chosen the path to history, right from the word go at the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015. Having braved some shudder-inducing encounters and close-shaves, the hosting Lionesses had finally achieved a never-seen-before feat- reaching their first FIFA Semi-finals. However, the hopes of the entire nation and admittedly- the world – that they had cradled through every victory came crashing down when they suffered a loss against the defending champions- Japan- yesterday. What was most gut-wrenching, was the absolutely unforseen turn of events in the last few minutes of the game, that changed everything. Here’s a quick 5 account:
1. Although the Lionesses started out all guns blaring – and Jodie Taylor almost scored a goal in very the first minute - the world champions got into their form soon enough, well-indicated by their first goal to open the account, just after the half-hour mark.
2. The game was a story of penalties, both converted and unconverted, but the first goal of the game was a result of a successful one. Japanese Skipper Ayi Miyami made the most of it, but no more than eight minutes later, England was granted an opportunity to set the score right.
3. The controversial penalty was granted to the lionesses, when Yuki Ogimi clipped Houghton’s heel, and Fara Williams was invited to take the spot. She seized the moment, and and set the score right until Half-time, as the English showed them who’s queen.
4. The second half looked like it could be anybody’s match, with 1 each on the scoreboard and heaps of faulty passes and hits. The game, which was likely to extend over extra-time and give the fans every penny’s worth, took a sudden sharp turn. In the last few seconds of injury time- Laura Bassett, the darling captain of the team, scored an own goal while deflecting a Japanese cross. The miscalculated angle lead the ball over England goalkeeper Karen Bardsley’s head, hit the crossbar and landed exactly where Basset was preventing it from getting to- the goal.
5. With a few seconds left, it hit the team that the error has costed them dearly, and the match has slipped out of their hands. Bassett had a breakdown right on field, as her team rushed to console her and escort her out of the premises. The Lionesses will now have a play-off encounter with Germany for the third-spot, and the Japanese are set to lock horns with U.S.A, in a history-repeating-itself Finals encounter – and when it happened the last time around in 2011, the Japanese ended up with the cup.
One would have though that the highly hopeful coach, Mark Sampson, who had done everything right in the prestigious tournament to lead the squad to their destiny, would be disappointed beyond consolation. On the contrary, he did not let this error get more attention than it warranted. He called his team in a heartening huddle and reminded them just how many milestones they had achieved, to advance women’s football in England.
As devastating as the nature of defeat was, the fans were surprisingly civil about it, too. Offering sympathies to Basset to help her not blame herself, they in fact, acknowledged how one mistake does not overshadow their shining performance throughout.
(Side note: Maybe the Indian fans – and certain news channels for sure – could learn a thing or two.)
Image Credits: Mirror.co.uk