EuroHockey 2013: England and Ireland face must-win tie

By Ollie WilliamsBBC Olympic sports reporter in Boom, Belgium
Highlights: England 1-2 Netherlands

England's men will play Ireland for a place in the semi-finals of hockey's European Championships after losing to the Netherlands in Belgium.

The Dutch won 2-1 with goals from Billy Bakker and Jelle Galema, despite Barry Middleton's second-half strike.

Earlier, Ireland's men beat Poland 4-2. Both England and Ireland have three points and face each other in their final group game on Wednesday.

"Home-nation clashes have that edge," England's Simon Mantell told BBC Sport.

"That's of benefit to both teams and means it'll hopefully be a great spectacle.

"We want a team coming out to try to win against us, rather than sitting back - I think it's going to be an exciting game."

Irish captain John Jackson, who plays alongside Mantell for club side Reading, said: "We played England two weeks ago and our preparation started well before then.

"Come Wednesday, we'll be suitably prepared for the task at hand."

A draw between the two teams would see England go through by virtue of superior goal difference, thanks to Middleton's goal against the Dutch, who otherwise allowed England few scoring opportunities.

Both Netherlands goals came in the first half - Bakker put the London 2012 silver medallists ahead after five minutes with a well-struck chopped finish, before Galema reacted quickest to tuck home a loose ball from close range.

Earlier, Conor Harte and Shane O'Donoghue scored before the break as Ireland got the better of Poland, the win completed by second-half goals from Eugene Magee and Michael Watt.

England narrowly beat Ireland 3-2 when the two met in July at the Hamburg Masters. England are ranked fourth in the world, with Ireland 15th.

"It doesn't really matter what the rankings are," said Mantell.

"I don't think, realistically, Ireland should be ranked 15th. They should probably be higher.

"It's going to be a tough game, but I'm certainly feeling very confident going into it."

Tuesday's schedule sees England's women play Scotland in their final group game.

The England women are looking to reach a European final for the first time since winning this event in 1991, while Scotland are fighting to avoid relegation back to the second tier of European hockey, having been promoted in 2011.

Ireland's women can reach the semi-finals if they beat hosts Belgium later in the day.