EuroHockey: England men match women with bronze play-off win

By Ollie WilliamsBBC Sport in Moenchengladbach, Germany

England's two hockey teams will leave Germany with European bronze medals after the men matched the women with a 2-1 victory over Belgium on Sunday.

Richard Mantell and Alexandre de Paeuw traded goals in normal time before James Tindall's golden-goal winner.

Failure to come through the semi-finals raises questions for England Hockey.

"I'd be very surprised if the 16 players that took the pitch today will be the same at the Olympics," men's coach Jason Lee told BBC Sport.

England's women beat Spain for bronze on Saturday after losing their semi-final to eventual winners the Netherlands.

The men were the defending champions heading into this tournament, having beaten Germany in the final two years ago.

But their only appearance in a major final since then was last year's 4-0 Champions Trophy final defeat at the hands of Australia, while the women have not reached a final since losing the 2002 Commonwealth Games gold-medal game versus India in Manchester.

Conversely, reigning Olympic champions the Netherlands strode to an eighth European women's title in 10 attempts, while Germany's men - again, the Olympic champions - have appeared in six of the last eight European finals, defeating the Dutch 4-2 for gold here on Sunday.

England already train full-time alongside the top Scottish and Welsh players, and the home nations will now compete as Great Britain for the remaining months up to and including London 2012.

But this tournament shows there is much work ahead if, with world hockey powers such as Argentina's women and Australia's men entering the mix, Britain are to challenge for Olympic medals next year.

Mantell lashed home a penalty corner after just six minutes in front of a sell-out 9,000 crowd in Moenchengladbach's Warsteiner HockeyPark as the nine-day EuroHockey event reached its climax.

Goalkeeper James Fair made two key first-half saves, taking a slight knock after the second, to preserve England's advantage, but De Paeuw's mis-hit finish evaded the helpless Fair for Belgium's equaliser.

A lengthy video referral ensued as England questioned whether the play leading up to the goal had been dangerous but, after some agonising communication difficulties, the umpires allowed the goal to stand.

England weathered periods of heavy pressure as the second half ended and the game progressed to golden goal, where Tindall knocked a reverse-stick winner home after five minutes to secure the bronze.

"We didn't look at this tournament saying 'we have to win' - we're disappointed not to get the gold as we know we're good enough, but [at the Olympics] we're really going to push those top teams," said Tindall.

"Next year we'll win that semi, and then hopefully win that final."

Lee added: "I actually think today was our worst performance by a distance but we were good enough against what turned out to be a very good Belgium side.

"We've got some good competition and depth - some strong players from the home nations and from England to come into the group.

"But too much internal competition can mean they start fighting each other. We want them to come together and fight against everybody else."

Britain's next major tournaments are the men's Champions Trophy - at a venue to be announced - this December, followed by the women's Champions Trophy in Argentina at the end of January 2012.

Champions Trophy events are high-profile, bringing together eight of the world's top teams, and these offer GB one last opportunity to conquer their semi-final gremlins ahead of the Olympics.