Edmonton, July 2: Japan coach Norio Sasaki admitted his side struggled to control England before a dramatic own-goal sealed a 2-1 win at the Women's World Cup and set up a title rematch with the United States.
Defender Laura Bassett turned the ball into her own net deep into injury time to send a heartbroken England home from their first semi-final and holders Japan through to their second straight final in Vancouver next Sunday.
The opening two goals came from penalties from Japan captain Aya Miyama (33) and Fara Williams (40) as a gritty English side matched the reigning champions.
Japan's 'Nadeshiko' had been unable to dictate play the way they had in their five previous games, which were also won by one-goal margins.
"Today we had a tough game. I thought we could play the way we wanted to and we could stick to our plan, but they were playing in a very simple manner and they were also powerful," said Sasaki.
"England were more mobile than I was expecting, and we struggled to cause them problems.
"We didn't play as well as I'd hoped, but we've qualified which is the main thing."
The Japan coach saw the own-goal more as the result of his players pressing for the winner than a mistake from the devastated Bassett.
"As for the own goal, I feel sorry for the player, but Yuki Ogimi was right behind her ready to pounce, so I don't think it would have made a difference either way," he explained.
"We still created the goalscoring opportunity ourselves -- for me, it's more a goal made by Nahomi Kawasumi and Ogimi than an own goal." AFP