England suffered semi-final heartbreak for the second consecutive major tournament after being knocked out of Euro 2017 by hosts the Netherlands.
The defeat will represent devastating failure for the Lionesses, who had targeted a first major trophy as their sole aim from the tournament.
Having lost their 2015 World Cup semi-final to Japan thanks to an injury-time own goal, individual errors again proved decisive.
The Dutch had already taken a 1-0 lead thanks to Vivianne Miedema’s first-half header when Fara Williams’s poor header was seized on by Danielle van de Donk.
And another stoppage-time own goal sealed England’s fate when Mille Bright turned in Lieke Martens’ shot.
Jade Moore hit the post and England wasted several good second-half chances, but they could not pierce the hosts’ defence.
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Although reaching the last four may be deemed as a relative success in some eyes, and despite becoming the first England manager since Sir Alf Ramsey to reach two consecutive major tournament semi-finals, Mark Sampson and his players felt they could win the competition.
After finishing as the top European team in the World Cup, and being the highest ranked team left at Euro 2017, they seemed well set to take another step on the road to their ambition of becoming the “world’s number one team”.
But they were well beaten by a Dutch team which were technically superior, led by Van de Donk, and roared on by a record crowd of 27,093 for a women’s football match in the Netherlands.
The Dutch will now be favourites to beat Denmark in their first European Championship final, while England will have to regroup for the 2019 World Cup in France, perhaps having wasted their best chance of silverware with this group of players.
England outclassed by Netherlands’ Arsenal contingent
England were called a “long-ball” team by their opponents in the build-up to this game, which was a repeat of the Euro 2009 semi-final, and for periods in the game they looked one-dimensional.
By contrast, the Dutch were more patient on the ball and in Van de Donk, they had a midfielder who pulled the strings before she put the game beyond England’s reach with an opportunistic finish.
The fact that she took advantage of a mistake by her Arsenal team-mate Williams, who tried to nod back to Siobhan Chamberlain, will make it tough on the England midfielder, who could yet end a 16-year international career on a sour note.
Williams, who has amassed a record 165 caps including the Euro 2009 semi-final where England beat the Netherlands, has only been a bit-part player in this campaign but replaced the suspended Jill Scott in midfield.
But when the 33-year-old returns to training at her club she will also be given another reminder of a torrid England night after Miedema recently signed for the Gunners.
The 21-year-old striker, who now has 43 international goals, powered in a back-post header to show the kind of ruthlessness that England were missing.
Rusty England fail to fire
For all the Dutch possession, England did limit them to few chances and the Netherlands’ twin threats down the wings – Martens and Shanice van de Sanden – were largely kept quiet until Martens forced a late own goal from Bright to seal England’s misery.
Despite missing Scott’s energy in midfield, Sampson’s team were not as clinical as previously seen at Euro 2017, where they have become the tournament’s top scorers, and they paid a heavy price.
Once Miedema had opened the scoring, Moore hit the post from a deflected header and Ellen White had a good penalty appeal turned down. Sampson was so animated in his reaction that he ripped his shirt.
But England rarely tested Sari van Veenendaal – another Arsenal player – in the Dutch goal.
Jodie Taylor also shot straight at her Gunners club-mate from close range late on, but could still finish as the tournament top scorer with five goals.
But that will be no consolation to her or an England team who failed to take advantage of their ranking and who beat the Netherlands in Tilburg last November.
Player of the match – Danielle van de Donk (Netherlands)
‘I’ve made some mistakes’
England head coach Mark Sampson: “Over the course of the tournament, we have been one of the of best teams here. But, in tournament football, small things can make a big difference.
“I made some mistakes, for sure. I’ll go away and reflect. I’ll look at it all and then do a better job next time.
“We didn’t get the decisions. But I’m incredibly proud of the players tonight.
“They’ve worked so, so hard over the past year.”
- 1van Veenendaal
- 2van LunterenBooked at 13mins
- 3van der GragtSubstituted forZeemanat 70′minutes
- 5van Es
- 10van de DonkBooked at 59minsSubstituted forRoordat 90+2′minutes
- 7van de SandenSubstituted forJansenat 89′minutes
- 4van den Berg
- 19van den Bulk
- 22van der Most
- 16BrightBooked at 15mins
- 11MooreBooked at 47minsSubstituted forCarneyat 76′minutes
- 10WilliamsSubstituted forDugganat 67′minutes
- Stéphanie Frappart
- Shots on Target
Match ends, Netherlands Women 3, England 0.
Second Half ends, Netherlands Women 3, England 0.
Own Goal by Millie Bright, England. Netherlands Women 3, England 0.
Attempt missed. Lieke Martens (Netherlands Women) left footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the right.
Offside, England. Jordan Nobbs tries a through ball, but Jodie Taylor is caught offside.
Substitution, Netherlands Women. Jill Roord replaces Daniëlle van de Donk.
Attempt missed. Francesca Kirby (England) left footed shot from outside the box is too high following a set piece situation.
Foul by Kika van Es (Netherlands Women).
Karen Carney (England) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Corner, England. Conceded by Kika van Es.
Substitution, Netherlands Women. Renate Jansen replaces Shanice van de Sanden.
Attempt blocked. Toni Duggan (England) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Karen Carney with a cross.
Corner, England. Conceded by Sari van Veenendaal.
Attempt saved. Ellen White (England) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the top right corner. Assisted by Francesca Kirby.
Corner, Netherlands Women. Conceded by Toni Duggan.
Corner, England. Conceded by Kelly Zeeman.
Attempt saved. Jodie Taylor (England) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Ellen White with a headed pass.
Attempt missed. Toni Duggan (England) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right.
Attempt missed. Ellen White (England) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Jordan Nobbs with a cross.
Foul by Vivianne Miedema (Netherlands Women).
Lucy Bronze (England) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt missed. Stephanie Houghton (England) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses the top right corner from a direct free kick.
Foul by Lieke Martens (Netherlands Women).
Jodie Taylor (England) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Substitution, England. Karen Carney replaces Jade Moore.
Attempt missed. Vivianne Miedema (Netherlands Women) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left following a set piece situation.
Jackie Groenen (Netherlands Women) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Jade Moore (England).
Attempt saved. Vivianne Miedema (Netherlands Women) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner.
Substitution, Netherlands Women. Kelly Zeeman replaces Stefanie van der Gragt because of an injury.
Attempt missed. Ellen White (England) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Jade Moore.
Substitution, England. Toni Duggan replaces Fara Williams.
Attempt blocked. Francesca Kirby (England) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Corner, England. Conceded by Lieke Martens.
Corner, England. Conceded by Kika van Es.
Goal! Netherlands Women 2, England 0. Daniëlle van de Donk (Netherlands Women) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner following a set piece situation.
Vivianne Miedema (Netherlands Women) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Stephanie Houghton (England).
Daniëlle van de Donk (Netherlands Women) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Daniëlle van de Donk (Netherlands Women).