Brown a hero and villain in England victory

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England go into today's European Championship game against Italy here two points ahead of Germany at the top of Pool A, writes Bill Colwill from Amstelveen, the Netherlands. This follows their well-deserved win on Saturday in which they outmanoeuvred the Germans to repeat their victory over them in the last European Cup final.

In a highly entertaining game in which the Germans had the edge in the opening exchanges, England were indebted to Karen Brown, who was supreme in midfield, and Jo Thompson, who brought off a number of outstanding saves.

A second-half penalty stroke miss by Brown looked like proving costly until, with 11 minutes remaining, Mandy Nicholls was chopped as she drove into the circle. The captain, Sandie Lister, took responsibility for the second stroke and gave the goalkeeper no chance.

England's coach, Maggie Souyave, was delighted with her team's performance. She said: "We deserved our win. It was a resolute team performance."

As England rested yesterday, watching the Rugby World Cup semi-final, Scotland's semi-final prospects here took a dip when they lost 1-0 to Spain. A disputed penalty stroke from Maider Telleria separated the teams. The Olympic champions, Spain, now look likely to be England's semi- final opponents on Friday.

The Dutch took just 42 seconds to open their account against the Czech Republic before going on to win 8-0 to lead Pool B on goal difference ahead of Spain.