England’s Lionesses were record-breakers even before kick-off in their match against Japan. This was the first time England’s women had ever reached the semi-final in a World Cup. Despite being the underdogs – Japan are the World Cup title holders and according to most pundits, the team most likely to win – England’s courage, grit and determination gave them a belief not to be underestimated.
From the first blast of the whistle, England attacked, and Jodie Taylor only narrowly missed a shot on goal within the first minute of play. They looked the most threatening side until Claire Rafferty pushed Saori Ariyoshi just outside the box, and Japan was awarded a penalty, half an hour in. Aya Miyama scored from the penalty spot and Japan were ahead. However, less than ten minutes later, Fara Williams had equalised, converting another controversial penalty after Steph Houghton was brought down in the box.
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