England produced a spirited final 10 minutes to earn a draw against their hosts, Spain, in Madrid yesterday but the point was not enough to book a World Cup semi-final place, which instead went to their opponents.
Trailing to Monserrat Cruz's ninth-minute goal, England, knowing only a win would put them into the last four, stepped up the pressure late in the game and equalised from Mel Clewlow's penalty corner. Earlier, Helen Grant had the ball in the net but her effort was disallowed for an infringement. Unable to force a winner, England now go into the fifth-to-eighth place play-offs in which they will first face Japan tomorrow.
The England coach, Danny Kerry, was disappointed with the result. "This is probably one of the lowest points of my life," he said. "I'm very upset and I can't describe the frustration the players, the coaching and management team feel.
"We struggled to break Spain down - we don't have the skill sets yet to unlock teams who are unwilling to play hockey and that is pretty much why we have a lot of pressure but don't turn teams over yet. Picking up the players after this will really define everything about us."
The Netherlands and Germany drew 0-0, while China beat India 1-0 in the Pool A's other matches. The United States beat South Korea 1-0 to secure third place in Pool B, while Japan beat South Africa 3-0.