The Everton goalkeeper Rachel Brown had a night to forget as England's women crashed out of the World Cup yesterday.
Brown was culpable on each occasion as the ball hit the England net three times in 13 minutes early in the second half. She had made a couple of good saves in the opening half, when Hope Powell's side looked the equal of the world's top-ranked women's team. But England's hopes of reaching the semi-finals of a World Cup for the first time were blown away in that devastating spell after the break.
Brown had started the game well, saving bravely at the feet of the midfielder Lori Chalupny following an 11th-minute cross from the left-back Stephanie Lopez. England might have taken the lead nine minutes later, Kelly Smith finding the striker Eni Aluko in the penalty area, but the Chelsea player lost control and the ball ran easily to goalkeeper Hope Solo.
The first on-target shot came from the Arsenal winger Karen Carney, whose long-range 27th-minute effort was comfortably held by Solo. There was a scare for England in the 37th minute when captain Faye White was knocked out by striker Abby Wambach's elbow and she had to receive treatment before continuing. Wambach should have inflicted further damage five minutes later, but when the captain Kristine Lilly's left-wing cross dropped into the six-yard box the striker volleyed high over the bar.
Powell made a bold substitution at the start of the second half, replacing the striker Aluko with left-winger Rachel Yankey and pushing right-winger Alex Scott into the main striker's role. But England were quickly on the back foot as Brown allowed Lilly's corner to sail beyond the far post for Wambach to outjump her markers and plant a powerful header into the roof of the net.
Nine minutes later the World Cup dream unravelled as the midfielder Shannon Boxx drove in a 20-yard shot that Brown was unable to reach.
On the hour England were on the way out as a mix-up between Brown and right-back Mary Phillip allowed Lilly to latch on to defender Cat Whitehill's long ball for an easy tap-in for goal number three.
And nine minutes from time it was almost four as Brown thumped an intended clearance against Wambach and the ball rebounded just wide of the post. Meeting America, who England have not beaten in eight meetings since 1988, proved a match too far after Powell's team had impressed during the group stage.
Watch highlights of the other two quarter-finals on BBC2 tomorrow at 12.35amReuse content