Laura Bassett's own goal in the 92nd minute proved to be the heartbreaker as Japan punched its ticket through to the World Cup championship game with a dramatic 2-1 victory over England on Wednesday.
Fourth-ranked Japan, the defending champion from the 2011 World Cup in Germany and silver medallists at the 2012 London Olympics, will meet the United States in the gold-medal match on Sunday in Vancouver.
"We had a tough game today," said Team Japan head coach Norio Sasaki. "I thought we could play the way that we wanted to and stick to our play, but they played a very simple game. Our goal was to go to the final and that's what we have managed to do. However we played, we are now off to the final and we should cherish it. We had a strong desire to win."
Japan has now won nine consecutive World Cup games dating back to 2011 and is the only team in this year's tournament to win all of its games outright.
Sixth-ranked England had a very good early opportunity, as Jodie Taylor shot just wide of the Japanese net and outstretched goalie Ayumi Kaihori in the opening minute.
Japan was awarded a penalty kick as English defender Claire Rafferty made a major mistake in shoving Saori Ariyoshi from behind on her way to the net. Aya Miyami took the penalty kick and made no mistake in scoring her second goal of the tournament at the 33rd minute to make it 1-0 for Japan.
However, England got a penalty kick call of its own soon afterwards in the 40th minute when Yuki Ogimi was flagged for impeding Steph Houghton — a call that did not please the Japanese fans in attendance as Houghton appeared to have taken a dive on the play. Fara Williams took the shot and outguessed Kaihori to knot the game 1-1.
England came very close to taking the lead in the 63rd minute, but Toni Duggan rang a shot off of the crossbar. The Lionesses nearly struck again a couple of minutes later on a corner kick, but Jill Scott headed the ball just wide.
The game appeared to be headed to extra time, but a long Japanese cross by Nahomi Kawasumi in the 92nd minute hit Bassett's leg and deflected off the woodwork and in, although it took the new goal-line technology to declare it a goal and give Japan the victory.
"If (Basset) hadn't played that ball, Yuki Ogimi was there waiting for the ball," coach Sasaki said. "She couldn't have done anything anyway. I feel that we created that scoring chance, and we might have made good on the play regardless of it going in off of her."
It was a difficult way to lose and the English side was gutted as a result.
"What a tough one to take," said England coach Mark Sampson. "This team has given its all. They gave absolutely everything. We go home knowing we could not have given any more blood, sweat or tears. I'm very proud of this group and what this team has done for the game back home, I know it will have a lasting legacy."
Sampson added the entire team is in full support of Bassett, who was understandably upset after the game.
"It was a horrible moment for Laura, but the team holds her in high regard," he said. "Every person on our team was devastated when that ball went over the line, but without her we wouldn't have been in this semifinal."
The Canada World Cup marks the farthest the English women's team has ever advanced in the tourney.
England will remain in Edmonton to face Germany in the bronze-medal game on Saturday.Suggest a correction