VANCOUVER: England and Germany wipe away the tears as they play for pride and third place at the Women’s World Cup in Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday.
It was not the final game either had dreamt of but, after a month of gruelling football and an emotional ride to the semi-finals, both sides are determined to finish on a high.
A 92nd-minute own-goal from Notts County defender Laura Bassett ended England’s fairytale run to their first semi-finals with a 2-1 loss to defending champions Japan.
It brought back memories of Italia ‘90 when Paul Gascoigne cried his way into English hearts in their last semi-final in the men’s tournament, then losing on penalties to West Germany.
That time England finished fourth, but this time the women’s team are determined to go home with a medal. “I think we can hold our heads high and we have to pick ourselves up to go and play against Germany,” said England captain Steph Houghton. “There’s a group of girls that give everything for the jersey and we have to take that into the game on Saturday.”
But Bassett was not alone in her tears.
It had been a dream tournament for Germany’s Celia Sasic until the hour mark into a semi-final against the United States in Montreal on Tuesday.
The tournament’s top scorer was riding high with six goals, including two penalties against France in the quarter-finals. But then she missed from the spot minutes before the United States opened the scoring with a penalty of their own in a 2-0 win which ended Germany’s bid for a record third title after 2003 and 2007.
Sasic has since been named on the eight-woman short-list for the Golden Ball award for the tournament’s top player along with England’s Lucy Bronze and both will be hoping to leave a lasting impression.
The German camp refused to blame Sasic’s penalty miss for the defeat. “She will have gotten over it by Saturday, there are always ups and downs in sport,” said coach Silvia Neid.
World number one team Germany are unbeaten in seven games played against England, most recently a 3-0 win on front of record 45,619 crowd at Wembley last November.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 4th, 2015.
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