England enter Hockey World Cup semis after 24 years

England enter Hockey World Cup semis after 24 years

NEW DELHI: European champions England stormed into the semi-finals of the men''s field hockey World Cup after 24 years with a 3-2 win over India on Saturday.

James Tindall, Ashley Jackson and Nick Catlin put England 3-0 ahead by the 47th minute before Gurwinder Chandi and Rajpal Singh scored in a two-minute burst for the hosts late in the match.

England''s fourth successive win in group B took them to the knock-out rounds of the sport''s premier event for the first time since 1986 when they made the final at home in London.

"We obviously came here to reach the semi-finals, so one of our three goals has been achieved," said English coach Jason Lee.

"Now we must enter the final and then win the World Cup. This is a sort of revival of English hockey. The first big step was beating Germany in the Euro final last year."

Meanwhile, favourites Australia defeated Beijing Olympic silver-medallists Spain 2-1 to put themselves in line for the second semi-final spot from the group behind England.

The Kookaburras, who have nine points and a huge goal difference of plus-16, can only miss the bus if they lose to Pakistan by a big margin and Spain trounce England in the last group B matches on Monday.

Spain are lying third in the group with six points, while India, Pakistan and South Africa have three each.

Former champions Pakistan, already out of contention for the semi-finals, suffered an embarrassing 4-3 defeat at the hands of lowly South Africa.

Australia''s win through goals by Luke Doerner and Glenn Turner helped the Kookaburras avenge the 3-2 defeat at Spain''s hands in the Olympic semi-final at Beijing in 2008.

Australian coach Ric Charlesworth said he was delighted at the win, but slammed the umpires for awarding seven penalty corners to Spain.

"I am very angry at the umpiring today (Saturday)," he said. "Giving them seven penalty corners put a lot of pressure on our players. Some of them were just not warranted.

"Umpiring has been a problem for some years, but one expects better at a World Cup." South Africa, whose three previous defeats in the tournament included a record 12-0 drubbing by Australia, reserved their best hockey against Pakistan to record their first-ever World Cup win.

Rehan Butt''s first-half goal for Pakistan mattered little as the South Africans pumped in four goals in the space of 16 minutes through Gareth Carr, Ian Haley, Taine Paton and Marvin Harper.

Pakistan made the scoreline look better than the match suggested by scoring twice in the last four minutes through Muhammad Imran and Waseem Ahmed.

Pakistan coach Shahid Ali Khan slammed his players after both teams were left with three points each from four matches.

"This is the worst I have seen Pakistan play, both as player and as coach," the former goalkeeper said.

"I take full responsibility for the team''s poor performance, but I am not going to resign because I have been given the task till the Asian Games at the end of the year."

South African captain Austin Smith was understandably elated.

"To beat a side like Pakistan is a great achievement," he said. "The team showed a lot of character after the big loss to Australia."