Europe

Maddie Hinch and Alex Danson heroics see England into the European final

Maddie Hinch (c) hockeyimages.co.ukMaddie Hinch saved five Dutch shootout attempts as England defeated the world number one side and Olympic champions to reach their first European hockey championships semi-final since 1991.

The shootout went to sudden death after the game was tied 1-1 in normal time and the sides were tied 2-2 after the first round.

In sudden death Helen Richardson’s attempt was blocked by Dutch keeper Joyce Sombroek. Hinch saved from Eva de Goede then Alex Danson scored her second shootout goal.

That set the scene for Hinch’s final save where Roos Drost all but capitulated leaving the keeper to boot the ball away and be swamped by her team-mates.

Earlier in the shootout, Hinch denied De Goede, Maartje Paumen and Ellen Hoog. England goals from Danson, and Helen Richardson were cancelled out by strikes from Drost and Willemijn Bos.

“She is pretty cool isn’t she,” coach Jason Lee said of his keeper. “She just looked in complete control of herself.”

During normal time the Dutch put England under tremendous pressure but failed to convert a string of corners.

England took a surprise lead in the 40th minute when a Sally Walton cross was deflected in from a defender’s foot.

Eva de Goede produced a rocket reverse finish from the top of the circle to level 12 minutes later and the Dutch again applied the pressure.

“There is no doubt the Dutch are a tremendous side and we had to defend our arses off at times,” said England skipper kate Walsh. I am just so proud of the girls.”

England will play Germany in Saturday’s final after Belgium produced a tragically inept shootout display to lose to Germany in front of a devastated home crowd.

The Red Panthers had comprehensively outplayed the 2011 silver medallists for most of the match after Germany took a 19th-minute lead when an Eileen Hoffman cross-shot went in off a Belgian foot.

A Jill Boon strike levelled it 10 minutes later and from then on Germany looked out for the the count.

The goal of the tournament so far – a diving deflection by Charlotte de Vos in the 40th minute seemed to have sealed a final place. But Germany sprang back to life enough to win a penalty corner – for a foot – with two minutes to go.

Under pressure, they produced a neat, right-post deflection from Marie Mavers to score with 1min 45secs on the clock.

It was straight to shootout and when Anne-Sophie Scheemaekere hit the right post from a narrow angle, the home side’s nerves were set tingling.

Assured finished from Germany’s Maike Stockel and Julia Muller with a save by Kim Platten from Alix Gerniers in between pushed the crowd into silence.

The normally decisive De Vos was lost for ideas and ended up walking the ball into Platten’s kickers.

Marie Mavers innovative back-to-goal approach against Nadine Khouzan didn’t work, but that only postponed the agony. The otherwise superb Anouk Raes barely did enough to round Platten on her stick side and the keeper got a stong touch and denied Raes’s second attempt.

England will be without Sally Walton for the final – she was stretchered off in the second half with a serious ankle injury.

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