For 55 minutes, England women had looked to be stuttering towards an early Pool exit. Then came the dramatic denouement, which first saw England take a barely believable lead and one step towards the semi-finals before Belgium’s Red Panthers pounced late on to spark wild celebrations and unwanted history for Mark Hager’s side at the Wagener Stadium.
A 1-1 draw left England nursing more EuroHockey hurt. Two years ago, they had failed to medal for the first time in 14 years. Wednesday marked the first time they had failed to progress beyond three Pool games in these Championships, a run of 15 editions stretching back to 1984.
In truth, England had done little to earn their place against hosts Holland in the semi-final. They now enter a cross-over phase to decide the one World Cup ticket on offer and face Ireland on Friday in the first of two games. This will certainly not be easy for the 2015 Euro champions.
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