London: England`s football world reacted emotionally and rallied around defender Laura Bassett on Thursday after her own-goal sealed the team`s fate in a 2-1 Women`s World Cup semi-final defeat against Japan.
"What a dreadful way to lose! Poor, poor Laura Bassett," tweeted football presenter Gary Lineker, regarded as one of England`s best-ever strikers.
"Despite the gut-wrenching nature of the defeat, England`s women were terrific and should hold their heads high. Great effort!" he added.
The Daily Telegraph`s football correspondent Henry Winter described the defeat as "brutal".
"Absolutely sickening way to go out," he said.
A headline on the newspaper`s website about Bassett read: "The heartbroken England defender whose own goal and tears have made her a national hero."
Many news websites carried pictures of a devastated Bassett in tears with her hands over her face.
The Guardian also referred to her "heartbreaking own goal", while the Daily Mirror wrote that the team, known as the Lionesses, had been eliminated "in the cruelest of ways".
Faye White, who missed a decisive penalty in England`s shoot-out defeat to France in the 2011 tournament, wrote: "Have felt pain like that and wouldn`t wish it on anyone."
But Kelly Simmons, the Football Association`s director of women`s football, said she hoped the tournament would still represent a breakthrough moment for the sport.
"So proud of the Lionesses. Painful now but a legacy of new fans and more girls inspired to play," she said.