Reigning champions England lose their way in German downpour

England lost their European men’s hockey championship title on a drenching semi-final night in Moenchengladbach on Friday.

Germany went ahead with a 16th minute field goal from Philipp Zeller, whose rather speculative low flick into a crowd of players from the top left of the circle somehow found its way into the far corner of the net.

That goal apart ,England impressed with some excellently organised and skilful defence and creative attack. But as the rain grew heavier and the pitch more sodden, finding scoring opportunities became more difficult for both sides. The players were eventually called off the pitch after a German PC injection sank almost without trace  on its way to the top of the circle.

The match was suspended with 26 minutes to go at 1-0 for more than an hour. When play resumed conditions were still very heavy, but to both teams’ credit, the very high standard of hockey continued. Late open-play goals from Oskar Deecke (63) and Oliver Korn (68) assured Germany their place in Sunday’s final against the Netherlands. The Dutch defeated a game Belgium side 4-2 in the earlier, dry-weather, semi-final.

England coach Jason Lee said: “We are ranked fourth in the world and the results are showing that is not just a lucky ranking.” He said it was unrealistic to expect to be going into London 2012 as medal certainties. But Great Britain were “realistic medal chances,” he said.