It's World Cup agony. This time for England's women

Hope Powell's battlers go out in worst way to spark memories of men's shoot-out exits
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The Independent Football

For Chris Waddle and David Batty read Claire Rafferty and Faye White, who last night became the latest names to be added to England'sfamiliar roster of heartbroken World Cup penalty takers.

Both missed from the spot in yesterday's quarter-final shoot-out with France after a 1-1 draw. Just as the men had fallen in 1990, 1998 and 2006 so the women went out in the cruellest possible way, leaving many in tears as France triumphed 4-3.

Disappointment was particularlyacute for England's captain White, for whom this was her final World Cup game. She hit the crossbar with the final penalty after Rafferty had missed to the goalkeeper's left. Both players looked shattered at the end in scenes eerily reminiscent of Waddle and Stuart Pearce in 1990 and Batty in 1998.

Afterwards England manager Hope Powell – who hinted she would step down – paid tribute to her players, who had come within three minutes of outright victory in normal time.

"It was a gallant effort," said Powell. "Our games have been tough and we were dead on our feet at the end. I am very proud of my players. They did their very best to take it to the wire. Unfortunately when it came down to penalties, you just had to applaud France."

England goalscorer Jill Scott added: "We've been practising penalties a lot, but you can't practise taking a penalty in a quarter-final."

It should never have gone that far. England had taken the lead through Scott in the second half. But with a place in the semi-finals beckoning, France's Elise Bussaglia equalised to send the game into extra time.

England also took the lead in the shoot-out when Karen Bardsley brilliantly saved Camille Abily's first spot-kick. It was an advantage Powell's side held until Rafferty and White missed their successive kicks.

England had lost both their previous shoot-outs: to Sweden in the 1984 European Championship final and to China at the 2005 Algarve Cup.