Football: England, Germany wipe away tears, play for pride and third place

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 rollercoaster 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," England captain Steph Houghton said.

"There's a group of girls that give everything for the jersey and we have to take that into the game on Saturday. We want to finish third if we can." England midfielder Fara Williams told FIFA.com: "We need to give one more big performance against the Germans. It will need to be a class performance." 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 so far in the tournament, including two penalties against France in the quarter-finals.

But she missed from the spot minutes before the United States opened with a penalty 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.

Germany unbeaten in seven games

The German camp also refused to blame Sasic's penalty miss for the defeat.

"Celia will have gotten over it by Saturday, there are always ups and downs in sport," said coach Silvia Neid.

"The English girls have shown during the tournament that they are a good team," said centre-back Annike Krahn.

"They were unlucky to lose in injury time to the defending champions, but despite the defeat they'll be confident.

"We are taking the disappointment and blame for the defeat together," added midfielder Melanie Leupolz.

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.

Neid will be overseeing her 17th World Cup match, making her the second most experienced coach in the tournament after Norway's Even Pellerud's 25 games.

It will also be Neid's last World Cup game as she will be stepping down after the Olympics in Rio next year.

Champions Japan play former two-time winners the United States in the final in Vancouver's BC Place Stadium on Sunday.

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