Rabobank Hockey World Cup: England join Australia in semi-finals after Belgian thriller
Last Updated: 10/06/14 8:37pm
Iain Lewers struck with a penalty stroke four minutes from time sent England into the Rabobank Hockey World Cup semi-finals as they beat Belgium 3-2 in a dramatic winner-takes-all shoot out.
Belgium entered the final Group A match two points ahead of England in the second qualifying spot, but victory for Bobby Crutchley’s side saw them usurp their opponents and clinch a place in the final four.
German umpire Christian Blasch was subject to a Belgian backlash after he awarded a 66th-minute penalty stroke to England, the official ruling Xavier Reckinger prevented Ashley Jackson’s ferocious strike from finding the net.
Reckinger protested relentlessly, claiming the ball had struck his hand and not his body before calling Blasch to send the decision to the video umpire, but the on-field official insisted only goal decisions could be referred upstairs and confirmed his original verdict to award the penalty to England.
Lewers made no mistakes as he fired into the top corner of Vincent Vanash’s goal and despite Belgium’s decision to sacrifice their shot-stopper, they were unable to find the equaliser which would have sent them through.
Oranje Zwart forward Thomas Briels had put Philippe Goldberg’s side ahead with a 13th-minute field goal, although their lead was short-lived as Reading midfielder Nick Catlin restored parity six minutes later, leaving the sides deadlocked at 1-1 at the break.
Jackson then put England in front following the restart with his second goal of the tournament as they looked for a second successive World Cup semi-final.
However Tanguy Cosyns drew Belgium level in the 63rd minute to set up a thrilling finale.
After Lewers’ decisive strike, England did their best to stay in the attacking corners of the field and when Reckinger’s audacious effort from the halfway line three seconds from time flew wide, there was relief for England as their place in the knockout stages was confirmed.
England will now face either the Netherlands for a place in the showpiece event, with the Dutch rounding off their Group B campaign with a 1-1 draw with New Zealand the following day.
Earlier on Monday, defending champions Australia roared into the semi-finals with a 4-0 success over India, with their unbeaten record securing top spot in Group A.
Monday’s final group match saw the 'Hockeyroos' increase their goal tally to 19, with only one conceded; Chris Ciriello netting twice, while Kieran Govers and Jeremy Hayward also found the target.
In Group A’s dead-rubber, Spain raced to a 5-2 victory - their only win of the competition - against Malaysia, who bow out having lost all five matches.
In the women’s competition, Maartje Paumen scored twice as the Netherlands cruised into the semi-finals with a 3-0 triumph over Korea, with Naomi van As also striking as the tournament hosts maintained their unbeaten record with five wins from their group stage matches.
A late Manon Simons field goal claimed a 2-2 draw for Belgium as they claimed their first point of the competition in their closing match against Korea; while a goalless stalemate against neighbours New Zealand was enough to see Australia take the second Group A semi-final berth.
Men’s results: Australia 4-0 India, Spain 5-2 Malaysia, Belgium 2-3 England
Women’s results: New Zealand 0-0 Australia, Netherlands 3-0 Korea, Japan 2-2 Belgium
Watch England's semi-final from 4:30pm on Friday live on Sky Sports 1HD