Champions Trophy: Crista Cullen drives Britain past China

By Ollie WilliamsBBC Olympic sports reporter

Another dynamic Crista Cullen display helped Britain's women beat China 3-1 to earn them second place in their Champions Trophy pool in Argentina.

Cullen took advantage of tame Chinese goalkeeping to score early in the first half, then a deflected shot from the 26-year-old squeezed into the net.

Fu Baorong got China back into the game before Ashleigh Ball's neat finish.

GB finish Pool A behind the Dutch and will play South Korea in their quarter-final at 2030 GMT on Thursday.

"It's great to get another couple of goals from Crista," said GB captain Kate Walsh. "As soon as she scores the first, we always win - I think that's the stat. We need to keep her scoring."

Having played their opening two games in fierce afternoon sunshine, the clouds rolled in for this clash, providing constant rain and a slippery playing surface.

Not that China can blame the conditions for Cullen's early shot, well-struck as it was, finding a way straight through the goalkeeper.

Holding an early lead for the second time in three games, Britain saw out the first half largely untested - China had the ball in the net once, but a video referral established no Chinese stick had touched the ball inside the circle en-route.

A more intricate Cullen penalty corner then took a deflection, looping up for Alex Danson to swat at before the ball wriggled over the line. Danson was initially credited with the goal but organisers later awarded it to Leicester's Cullen, her fifth of the tournament.

Having let Fu get China back to within one goal in the second half, a superb slice of Chloe Rogers improvisation saw her chipped shot rebound off the post for Ball to convert.

"The other day it was boiling and today it poured with rain, and I think both games were slow because of it," said Walsh.

"But we grew into the game and kept the ball better in the second half."

By virtue of finishing second in their group, Britain can take advantage of scheduling which hands them a late afternoon quarter-final on Thursday, while the Netherlands - who beat Japan 4-1 - must suffer Rosario's midday heat.

Temperatures earlier in the tournament exceeded 40C during Britain's games, leading to complaints from the team at being forced to play in those conditions. However, they still recorded a comfortable win over Japan and held Olympic champions the Netherlands to a draw.

The Champions Trophy, ranked third in importance behind the Olympics and World Cup, concludes on Sunday. All GB fixtures are being shown live on the BBC red button.

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