Britain beat Belgium to stay perfect
Great Britain’s tremendous run in Olympics hockey continues after the women’s team forced their way past Belgium to secure London 2012 win number three.
Team GB broke down a dogged Belgian side to record a 3-0 victory, to top Pool A after three successful wins at the Riverbank Arena.
Going into the match, Belgium had failed to score in their two matches, whereas Britain had notched up nine goals with seven different players contributing – so it was no surprise that the first 35 minutes was predominantly played in the Belgian half.
The Brits finally broke the deadlock in the 32nd minute thanks to Ashleigh Ball – Chloe Rogers picked up a rebound and fed Ball, who calmly finished and expressed her delight at scoring the first.
“It was phenomenal, absolutely phenomenal. The noise in the stadium was just unbelievable,” said the 26-year-old Olympic debutant.
But she wasn’t so pleased with her side’s first half performance, claiming they were fortunate to take the lead
“I think we were lucky to go in 1-0 up at half-time, but the second half we showed our character and belief and gave a better performance,” said the double-European Championships bronze medallist.
The home side started the second half with more conviction and extended their lead after only five minutes when Hannah Macleod stole possession from Belgian defender Anne-Sophie van Regemortell.
Macleod drove into the D before slipping the ball under her shoulder to Laura Bartlett, who turned her defender and slotted a reverse stick finish under the goalkeeper.
Now 2-0 down, Belgium were forced into action and the remainder of the match was a much more even affair, with both teams enjoying periods of possession.
Belgium created opportunities for Barbara Nelen and Anouk Raes but neither troubled the British goal.
Danny Kerry saw his side add the final flourish to the match when Crista Cullen emphatically dispatched a penalty corner low to the goalkeepers left, with just two minutes left to play.
And coach Kerry was pleased to have his captain, Kate Walsh, back and sitting on the bench having been released from hospital with a fractured jaw.
Walsh will undergo a fitness test tomorrow and Kerry was certain she would return to the pitch soon.
"I have no doubt Kate will play again in this tournament, it is simply a question of when. I don't yet know if she will play against China or the Netherlands,” he said.
Argentina's 2-1 win over New Zealand kept the world's number two team in contention to qualify from the group stages after a mixed start to the tournament.
The result leaves four sides tied on six points at the top of pool B with two games left to play. Only two out of Germany, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand will progress to the semi-finals.
Knowing that victory would put them at the top of the table New Zealand made the worst possible start when sloppy play from a defensive hit-out let in Argentina's Carla Rebecchi to slot home a shot that Kiwi keeper Bianca Russel should have stopped.
New Zealand slowly found their footing in the match but Argentina added another goal early in the second half when Rebecchi turned in a sharp cross from the byline.
Charlotte Harrison tapped in to give the Kiwi team hope with eight minutes to go but the Argentines held on to put themselves back in with a chance of progressing after a surprise defeat to the US earlier in the tournament.
"After the USA game, we forgot about the loss and went into this game differently. We were more concentrated from the beginning of the game and more aggressive in both defence and attack," Rebecchi said.