Champions Trophy: British women defeat Japan 3-0 in opener

FIH Champions Trophy

Venue:
Rosario, Argentina
Date:
28 January-5 February 2012
Coverage:
All GB matches live on BBC red button. Group stage: GB v Netherlands 1800 Sun 29 Jan; GB v China 1800 Tue 31 Jan (all times GMT). Highlights available on BBC Sport website (UK users only).
GB women's hockey team members

Britain's women opened their 2012 Champions Trophy campaign in Argentina with a comfortable 3-0 win over Japan.

Crista Cullen drove a penalty corner powerfully home, Helen Richardson doubled the lead and Alex Danson tapped in a late third from close range.

As the afternoon sun in Rosario pushed temperatures past 30C, GB controlled the game against a Japanese side ranked five places lower in the world.

The British next take on the Dutch, who beat China 3-1 earlier on Saturday.

Other than having a penalty stroke awarded against them in the second half, a decision they successfully overturned on video appeal, Britain were rarely troubled and deserved their convincing win.

"That was a really professional performance," said Richardson. "Our captain [Kate Walsh] just called us 'classy' so it can't have been bad.

"The penalty corners have been going well. I'm pleased Crista got on the scoresheet, that'll give her confidence for the next few games."

The pace slowed after the break as Britain's players fought to conserve energy in the heat, aware that world number one outfit the Netherlands lie in wait within 24 hours.

Danson had two bites at getting on the scoresheet in the second half, missing the first thanks to a last-ditch challenge from Japan's Sachimi Iwao before nudging home with five minutes remaining.

The Dutch produced a slightly more laboured performance to see off China in the first match of the tournament, their opponents squandering two clear-cut chances in a game the Chinese easily could have won.

This event features the world's eight top-ranked teams with the exception of Australia, who will not take part and have been replaced by Japan, ranked ninth. England, who make up the vast majority of the GB squad, are ranked fourth.

Argentina, Germany, New Zealand and South Korea make up the competition's other group.

A new-look format, introducing quarter-finals after a set of three group games, has drawn criticism with GB coach Danny Kerry telling Inside The Games it devalued the group fixtures.

"Nations [will] look at group games and wonder what's the point?" Kerry said.

"You can win your three group games and lose your one quarter-final and be playing off for fifth to eight, which seems to have no bearing on performance."

Britain face the Netherlands in their second game from 1800 GMT on Sunday, before facing China at the same time on Tuesday - both matches are live on the BBC red button, including freeview. Quarter-finals are scheduled for Thursday, 2 February.

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