South Africa shocked Spain, England scraped through against China with plenty of help from keeper Beth Storry (pictured) and it was business as usual (with a few scares) for las Leonas at the 2010 hockey world cup.
South Africa’s well deserved defeat of Spain was the big boilover on day three. The winning goal was the best of the tournament so far – a reverse hit from midfield looped up into the circle where Sulette Damons produced a beautiful ‘soft hands’ finish as she took the ball over her right shoulder and sent it high past an advancing Maria Lopez de Eguilaz. Spain were livid – but the video appeal showed the pass was neither dangerous nor taken over head height by the striker.
It was the second time South Africa had been in the lead in the match – they opened the scoring with a powerful Pietie Coetzee penalty corner. Spain never really got into their stride despite equalising just before half time.
With two losses from two games the Spanish look unlikely to make the semi-finals. The world’s third-ranked side China are in the same position after failing to score – despite many chances – against England leaving Hannah Macleod’s second minute tidy up of a penalty corner the only goal of the game.
Goalie Beth Storry kept the English in the match with a
series of fine saves, mostly during a second half where China dominated possession. England skipper Kate Walsh said there was much to improve on. “We need to stick to our game plan and not turn the ball over in key areas. In the first half we held ball possession well and played our game. In the second half we turned the ball over in crucial areas. We need to be a lot smarter with our possession.”
Coach Danny Kerry said: “We won the first half and as for the second – we have to play better than that, although we did show quality with some good tackles in the circle. Then Beth made some really good saves as China threw everything but the kitchen sink at us.”
He said England’s comparative youth had contributed to the second-half performance as bad habits tended to re-appear under “pressure or fatigue”.
“At one stage if you looked across our front line it was all teenagers and it showed. Teenagers have to wait five years to become 25 and that’s where we are. I am not a miracle worker but we do work very hard to get into good habits.”
In the final match of the day Korea made Argentina and the home crowd sweat. The difference between the teams was the single goal created by some Luciana Aymar brilliance. ‘The Magician’ produced a mazy 40m dribble into the circle and her cross-shot was picked up off the keepers pads by Carla Rebecchi. Korea continued their fine form from the first day defeat of China and only an excellent high stick-side save from Belen Succi towards the end denied them a draw.
The results leave Argentina and England sitting pretty with two wins apiece. When group B action resumes on Thursday,South Africa play China, England face the dangerous Koreans followed by the battle of the Spanish-speaking nations – Spain v Argentina