EuroHockey 2013: England beat Spain in opening game

By Ollie WilliamsBBC Olympic sports reporter in Boom, Belgium
Women's European hockey highlights: England 3-0 Spain

England's women began hockey's European Championships in Belgium with a confident 3-0 victory over Spain.

Hannah Macleod and captain Kate Walsh scored in the first half before Lily Owsley added a third.

Spain, 14th in the world, had no answer to England's attacking hockey as keeper Maddie Hinch barely touched the ball.

Scotland's women were narrowly defeated 1-0 by Germany in their opening game, while Ireland's women lost 6-0 to Olympic champions the Netherlands.

England's aim is to win the European title, an honour they have not won in more than two decades.

Many England players won Olympic bronze with GB at London 2012 and fresh talents such as striker Owsley, defender Hollie Webb and Giselle Ansley have been added to the squad since.

Coach Jason Lee, who led the GB men to their home Olympics, has introduced a slightly more offensive mindset since taking over the England and GB women's teams.

"There have been a few practice games where we've shipped a lot of goals and tried to score one more. Being a central defender, I'd like to shore things up a bit at the back," admitted Walsh.

"Today, scoring a couple of early-ish goals settled everybody's nerves and it was nice to be so dominant, especially in the first half."

Hinch said: "We're looking to score goals and if that means conceding a few then we're not bothered, as long as we're scoring more. To get three against Spain, who are a tough team to break down, is a positive result for us.

"I don't think we'll do a huge amount different [for Sunday's game against Germany]. If we put in a full 70 minutes tomorrow, I can't see why we can't come out with a win."

Germany's goal against lower-ranked Scotland came courtesy of a first-half deflection off defender Susan McGilveray, amid a spirited Scottish performance which almost saw them take a point.

"We were pleased. We competed with Germany, albeit they had more chances than us," captain Linda Clement told BBC Sport.

"We wanted to go out and take the game to them. We had a really solid defensive platform today - Amy Gibson in goal was outstanding; people were putting their bodies on the line. We're encouraged by the performance."

Ireland's women kept the deficit to one goal for much of their game against the Netherlands - widely regarded as the best team in women's hockey - but the floodgates opened in the second half as injuries took their toll.

England's men - some of whom finished an agonising fourth at the Olympics with GB - start their campaign on Sunday against Poland, as do Ireland's men against the Dutch. The tournament lasts for nine days.

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