EuroHockey: England women beat Spain to win bronze medal

By Ollie WilliamsBBC Sport in Moenchengladbach, Germany

England's women won their fourth consecutive European hockey bronze medal with a 2-1 victory over Spain.

Silvia Munoz gave Spain the lead but Alex Danson's cross was met on the line by Helen Richardson to equalise.

Richardson grabbed her second of the game with an impressive reverse-stick strike three minutes from time to earn England the bronze medal.

The Dutch beat Germany 3-0 in the women's final. England men play Belgium for bronze at 1200 BST on Sunday.

The men endured a torrid Friday night in the German town of Moenchengladbach as heavy rain caused an hour-long disruption.

Hosts Germany eventually won the tie 3-0 and will play the Netherlands for gold in a replica of Saturday's women's final, leaving England to scrap for bronze.

That is a familiar scenario for the women's team, who made a staggering seventh consecutive appearance in a European bronze-medal play-off on Saturday.

They have crumbled at the semi-final stage on every occasion since winning the title in 1991, taking four bronze medals and two fourth-place finishes in the intervening years.

To that tally they now add a fifth European bronze, alongside third place at last year's World Cup, Commonwealth Games and Champions Trophy events.

"We had to prove that, at the very least, we're the third-best team in Europe," captain Kate Walsh told BBC Sport.

"Whenever you go into a medal game, you want to be stood on the podium at the end. Yes it's disappointing, yes we want to be in the final, but it's very important we went and got that bronze.

"We've got to do some hard work on the psychology stuff, just as we do on the weights and on the pitch, and it will come."

A quiet first half in pouring rain gave way to livelier hockey and sunshine after the break at the Warsteiner HockeyPark.

Munoz pounced for Spain when a penalty corner became trapped beneath England goalkeeper Beth Storry, but England's Danson - who had already hit the post - responded swiftly with a reverse-stick ball that Richardson may or may not have touched before it reached the net. Officials at the arena awarded the goal to Danson.

With time running out, Richardson delivered an exceptional reverse-stick blow through Spanish goalkeeper Maria Lopez de Eguilaz and into the roof of the net.

The result is some consolation after a desperate performance against the Netherlands on Thursday saw England fail at the semi-final stage yet again.

"It would be difficult to describe the emotions in the group on Friday," said coach Danny Kerry.

"The girls, in an ironic kind of way, went to some really good places yesterday in relation to the challenges they will face next year.

"I know coaches say that stuff a lot, but I can assure you yesterday was an incredibly tough day.

"I'd hate to think that day was wasted - if we don't learn from that then we don't deserve to move forward."