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Canada 2015 – Women's World Cup Day Eighteen Review & Day Nineteen Preview

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Waking the Red recaps all the action from the eighteenth day of the 2015 Women's World Cup and looks ahead to Day Nineteen

Quietly, the defending champions are back in the final - can they beat the USA again?
Quietly, the defending champions are back in the final - can they beat the USA again?
Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

Just a single match on the docket for the eighteenth day of Canada 2015, but it was big one, as the clash between Japan and England in Edmonton, Alberta would determine who would meet the USA in the tournament's final.

With a date against the US ahead, both sides came out with a mix of caution and attack, both wanting to score the opener, but neither willing to risk exposing themselves at the back. The opening half hour was a stalemate, but come the 33rd minute Japan would take the lead from the penalty spot after a long ball from Azusa Iwashimizu sliced open the England defenses.

Her ball from the back-line played Saori Ariyoshi down the right-side, where she got in front of English defender, Claire Rafferty, who resorted to a not-so-sly shove in the back, conceding the penalty kick rather than the chance.

Nadeshiko Japan Captain, Aya Miyama stepped to the spot, coolly ushering her right-footer to the goalkeeper's right, having sent the fit-again Karen Bardsley diving in the other direction.

England would respond shortly thereafter, scoring from a penalty kick of their own in the 40th minute after Japanese defender Yuki Ogimi wrapped up Steph Houghton in the area, sending her tumbling to the ground.

Fara Williams assumed the responsibility, stepping to the spot and sending her right-footer low to the keeper's right. Japanese keeper, Ayumi Kaihori read that intent correctly, but could not reach the well-placed, firmly-struck effort.

Level once more, England would assume the ascendancy, the Three Lionesses hitting the bar through Toni Duggan and then seeing a goal-bound shot from Ellen White pushed wide of the post by Kaihori.

That wastefulness would haunt in the most desperate of ways come stoppage-time, when one last Japanese attack worked up the right-side.

Nahomi Kawasumi strode up that side, sending an early, hopeful cross into the box from deep. Laura Bassett was faced with a Hobson's choice of sorts, either allow the delivery to find its mark – the streaking run of Ogimi – or risk cutting it out with a stretch and suffering the consequences.

She opted for the latter, and in the most unfortunate turn of fate, her right-footed redirect sailed towards her own net, beyond the reach of Bardsley, kissing off the underside of the bar to fall across the English goal-line in the 92nd minute of play, the second of three added minutes tacked onto the end of the match.

Mere seconds away from extra time and penalty kicks, is there a more English way to fall out of a competition than with a stoppage-time own-goal? Perhaps an epic goal-keeping blunder – or losing to Germany on spot kicks – would have been the only more-traditional manners of defeat; there will be time for that in the third-placed match.


With that 2-1 win gifted to them, Japan moves on to Sunday's final in Vancouver, which will be a rematch of the last final. Japan beat the USA in penalty kicks in the culmination of the 2011 edition in Germany after drawing 2-2.

Alex Morgan gave the Yanks the lead in the 69th minute, by Miyama leveled in the 81st minute. Abby Wambach again put the USA in front in extra time, scoring in the 104th minute, only for Homare Sawa to re-equalize in the 117th minute, sending the match to kicks, where misses from the first three Americans doomed the US to defeat.

England, however, must lick their wounds and recover for a classic encounter on Saturday where they will meet Germany in the third-placed match, set to be played at Edmonton, Alberta's Commonwealth Stadium at 4 pm (ET).