VANCOUVER -- Canada exited the Women's World Cup in a painful 2-1 quarter-final loss to England on Saturday, undone on defence in a brutal three-minute spell early in the first half.
The quarter-final departure is by the numbers for eighth-ranked Canada. But John Herdman's team will feel it should have had the measure of No. 6 England and has missed a gilt-edged opportunity to make the final four of the soccer showcase for only the second time.
Still Canada went out on its shield, taking the game to the English as it tried to mount a comeback from the 2-0 deficit. Captain Christine Sinclair scored late in the first half and played her best game of the tournament, constantly probing the English defence for weaknesses.
Five minutes of stoppage time made for a tense ending with the crowd trying to urge Canada on.
As the final whistle blew, English players rushed the field to celebrate. Canadians dropped to their knees in disappointment. Teenage defender Kadeisha Buchanan had to be consoled by teammates.
Jodie Taylor and Lucy Bronze scored for England as Canada's defence, which had been breached just once in its four previous games, gave up goals in the 11th and 14th minutes.
Sinclair notched her 155th international goal thanks to an goalkeeping gaffe by Karen Bardsley. The English 'keeper was eventually forced off in the 52nd minute after taking a whack to the eye. She was replaced by Siobhan Chamberlain.
England advances to play defending champion Japan in Wednesday's semifinal in Edmonton.
The fourth-ranked Japanese edged No. 10 Australia 1-0 earlier in the day at Commonwealth Stadium on an 87th-minute goal by Mana Iwabuchi.
The other semifinal, set for Tuesday in Montreal, sees No. 1 Germany versus the second-ranked Americans.
Saturday's game was played before a loud and proud record-breaking crowd of 54,027 at B.C. Place Stadium, erasing the Canadian national team mark of 53,855 set in the same venue last Sunday for the round-of-16 game against Switzerland.
At No. 6, England was Canada's first opponent at the tournament with a better world ranking. The eighth-ranked Canadian women had previously beaten No. 16 China and No. 19 Switzerland and tied No. 17 New Zealand and the 12th-ranked Netherlands.
It was a savvy sometimes cynical performance from England, which defended in numbers after going ahead.
Coach Mark Sampson had complained before the match that the host country had got an easy ride from referees. But it was England who looked to antagonize with players taking particular aim at Canadian midfield creator Sophie Schmidt, who was roughed up every time she got the ball.
The English played with their elbows up, looking to disrupt the home side. Uruguayan referee Claudia Umpierrez penalized them but not often enough for the liking of the crowd.
Canada started well and threatened first.
The Canadians put together a terrific sequence in the eighth minute when Schmidt won the ball back deep in her own half and fed Sinclair, who put the ball through the legs of two English players before lofting a perfect cross-field pass to Melissa Tancredi. But the goal-starved striker shot high.
Three minutes later, Canadian defender Lauren Sesselmann got the ball tangled up in her feet and Taylor pounced on it, accelerating towards the Canadian goal with two defenders chasing her. Taylor then calmly beat Erin McLeod with a right-footed shot from the edge of the penalty box.
Sesselmann, who is coming back from knee surgery, had looked strong in the early going Saturday. But she had giveaways earlier in the tournament and this time she paid for it.
It was 2-0 in the 14th minute as Canada wobbled on defence again when Bronze beat the much smaller Allysha Chapman to a free kick and headed the ball in off the crossbar. The sun streaming through the stadium roof did not help Chapman's cause.
Canada outshot England 14-8 but the English had a 4-3 edge in shots on target. England committed 21 fouls to 15 by Canada., with each team getting one yellow card.
As England celebrated wildly, the Canadian players gathered in a huddle in a bid to stem the flow of goals.
England dominated on set plays and Steph Hougton hit the woodwork with a header in the 28th minute.
Canada kept chipping away and pulled one back in the 42nd minute when Bardsley failed to hang onto a less-than-challenging Ashley Lawrence shot. Sinclair, Johnny on the spot, tapped it in.
McLeod made a big save in the 55th minute, palming a Taylor shot away.
Veteran Canadian midfielder Diana Matheson came on in the 62nd minute, making her tournament debut after a string of injuries. Herdman then shifted Canada into attack mode formation in a desperate bid for the tying goal.
Schmidt shot high in the 83rd minute. As the game neared its end, Canadian players queued up to take shots but could not make them count.
Buchanan was thrown up front as Canada rolled the dice.
Canada made it as far as the semifinals in 2003 when it lost to Sweden before beaten by the U.S. in the third-place game.
The English were coming off their first knockout-round win at the tournament, a 2-1 comeback victory over No. 11 Norway.
Prior to Saturday, the Canadian women had a 5-6-0 career record against England, also holding a win over Great Britain from the 2012 Olympics.
Canada, in its sixth trip to the World Cup, came into the game with a 6-11-5 tournament record and in search of its first back-to-back wins at the soccer showcase since 2003 when it won three in a row.
England, 8-4-4 in four World Cup visits prior to playing Canada, had won three straight.
Herdman went with an unchanged lineup. Sampson brought in Jill Scott and Taylor for Fran Kirby and Toni Duggan, both of whom were substituted in the round-of-16 win over Norway.