Eurosport - Sat, 06 Mar 18:21:00 2010
England qualified for the semi finals of the Hockey World Cup in Delhi after securing a tight 3-2 victory over hosts India.
James Tindall's goal and a double from Ashley Jackson ensured England will finish in the top two of their pool with just one game remaining in the group stages against Spain on Monday.
The home crowd ensured a testing atmosphere in Delhi as they cheered every Indian touch during the opening ten minutes.
But, despite lacking defensive linchpin Richard Mantell who withdrew from the squad after fracturing his ankle against Pakistan, the European champions weathered the storm and held on for a deserved win.
And head coach Jason Lee admitted he was delighted with the effort shown thus far by his team in Delhi.
"It's a fantastic achievement for this group," said Lee. "They've worked so hard to achieve it and fully deserve a place in the semi finals.
"They had to dig deep and it was a gutsy second half display but the team spirit within this group is obvious to see and I'm really pleased for the players."
England had a great chance to take the lead after six minutes but Ashley Jackson could only hit his reverse stick shot just wide after a good save from India goalkeeper Adrian D'Souza.
India looked threatening on the counter attack just two minutes later but Singh Chandi could not make it through a solid England defence.
And the hosts wasted a penalty corner on 12 minutes before play was brought to a halt as Iain Mackay was treated for a nasty gash after being caught by Sandeep Singh's stick.
It was England who always looked like grabbing the opening goal and they duly took the lead on 16 minutes when Tindall deflected a precise cross from Nick Catlin into the back of the net.
But although they held on until half time, England's defence was sternly tested by Shivendra Singh on 24 minutes, who could not get past keeper James Fair when he found himself one on one
Captain Barry Middleton went close to doubling the lead six minutes before the break but D'Souza was alert to the threat saving the reverse stick shot.
Both sides enjoyed opportunities in the opening exchanges of the second half but it was England who got the crucial goal on 42 minutes, courtesy of a Jackson drag-flick into the upper right-hand corner.
And just five minutes later England were in control as Jackson gave the world number six side a comfortable three goal lead.
India got themselves back into the game on 54 minutes when Gurwinder Singh Chandi slotted home thanks to a deflected cross from Gurbaj Singh.
And they were back in touching distance just three minutes later when Rajpal Singh slammed home from a Sarvanjit Singh pass.
Both sides enjoyed possession in the final minutes, but India could not find the crucial equaliser and remain fourth in Pool B with one game to play.
Meanwhile, Australia moved clear in second on nine points after a 2-0 defeat of third-placed Spain while South Africa picked up their first win of the competition in the other Pool B match, beating Pakistan 4-3.