EuroHockey 2013: England women beat Dutch to reach final

By Ollie WilliamsBBC Olympic sports reporter in Boom, Belgium
EuroHockey: England beat Netherlands in shootout

England's women beat Olympic champions the Netherlands on penalties to reach their first European final in 22 years.

An own goal just after half-time, from an innocuous Sally Walton long ball, stunned the Dutch, who had dominated.

Eva de Goede's classy equaliser ensured the game finished 1-1 but England won 3-2 in the shootout, goalkeeper Maddie Hinch saving four penalties and Alex Danson scoring the winner.

England will face Germany, who beat hosts Belgium, in Saturday's final.

"I'm so, so, so proud to be part of this team. We're going to come out fighting in two days' time," said Danson.

"You look at the players we've got coming through, some of our talented youngsters, and it is such an exciting time for English and British hockey - and that has shown tonight in abundance.

"We've taken the world number one to a 1-1 draw and then beaten them, and hopefully that is a sign of things to come."

The Netherlands dominated for the opening 35 minutes, winning nine penalty corners, but a combination of resilient defending and wayward finishing meant the scores remained level.

And, after the break, England were gifted the opener as Walton's pass drifted into the Dutch circle, where Willemijn Bos steered it past her own goalkeeper.

Buoyed by the goal, England looked far livelier but were pegged back by a sublime De Goede reverse-stick finish into the roof of Hinch's net.

A stoppage six minutes from time, while Walton left the field on a stretcher with an ankle injury which saw her taken to hospital, allowed both sides to regroup but neither could find a breakthrough.

Germany in final after penalty win

Helen Richardson scored England's fifth penalty but then missed the first sudden-death strike, leaving goalkeeper Hinch to keep England alive before Danson converted the winner.

"I don't feel like the hero, it was a massive team effort," said Hinch.

"I saw this as an opportunity to step up and do my part for the team. I had to hold my nerve and I'm delighted with it."

England were beaten 2-1 by Germany in the group stage earlier this week, but midfielder Ashleigh Ball said: "In the pool games we didn't perform, we had a number of issues with our performance and the Germany game was definitely not our best."

England's men won European gold in 2009 but the women last reached a Euro final in 1991, beating Germany 2-1 in Brussels. They have not triumphed in a major tournament since, but have won European bronze on the past six occasions.

Captain Kate Walsh said: "To have finally cracked it, and against the Dutch as well, is a dream come true. We had to defend for our lives but we did it.

"This team is so young, so new in its life. If we can [win the tournament] it would be a brilliant achievement. We will definitely take it to Germany in that final."

Danson added: "We will come out here and give everything we have to be on that top rostrum at the end of this tournament."

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