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William praises defeated Lionesses

The Duke of Cambridge has praised the achievements of the England women's football team at the World Cup in Canada after they went out to Japan in the semi finals.

England lost in desperately unlucky fashion in Edmonton as Laura Bassett's stoppage-time own goal gave Japan a 2-1 win.

Japan captain Aya Miyama's penalty opened the scoring but Fara Williams responded in kind for England before half-time.

A strong second-half performance from Mark Sampson's side saw Toni Duggan and Claire Rafferty hit the bar while Ellen White and Jill Scott also went close, but in stoppage time the impressive Bassett's interception sent the ball looping in off the bar.

William, who is president of the Football Association, said: "All football fans around the country will I hope join me in sending their thanks to the Lionesses for what has been a thrilling ride in the World Cup.

"We were reminded last night that part of what makes the game great is the emotional rollercoaster it can send us on.

"I know the team are bitterly disappointed, but I hope more than that they will be proud of what they have achieved. They've inspired thousands of girls and boys around the country and entered history as one of England's great teams."

He wished them the best of luck for their third place play-off match against Germany in Edmonton on Saturday. Japan face the United States in Sunday's final in Vancouver.

England had beaten the hosts Canada in a nail-biting quarter-final on Sunday to set up the semi-final with Japan - the first time an England team has been in a World Cup semi-final since the men's team played West Germany at Italia 90.

It was the first time the women had reached this stage of the tournament and they went into the match as underdogs against a Japan side whose technical brilliance and passing game have led to comparisons with Barcelona.

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