Hockey: England fail to recover from first-half flurry

Netherlands 3 England 2
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England's third game in the élite Champions Trophy here last night turned on a extremely dubious goal in the 18th minute by Tuen de Nooijer, followed in quick succession by two further goals as the Dutch raced to a three-goal lead in a fateful seven minutes. England's excellent second-half fightback was not enough to avoid defeat.

With England's full-back Rob Todd lying injured in the circle, the German umpire appeared to stop the game as the ball hit a Dutch foot. The ball then bounced to De Nooijer who volleyed the ball past Jimi Lewis, and surprisingly a goal was awarded.

Worse was to follow for England as four minutes later Marten Eikelboom tore through the defence to increase the Dutch lead. The Dutch captain Jeroen Delmee added the third at their fourth penalty corner.

England could have been excused if they were completely deflated. They were not and came out fighting after the interval.

A splendid opportunist goal from Danny Hall nine minutes after the break signalled England's revival and then when a side-line hit from Hall 10 minutes later found Mark Pearn unmarked at the top of the circle who sent a crashing shot into the roof of the net, the Dutch knew they had a match on their hands. As the game swung from end to end there were chances at both ends before the final whistle.

As England's coach Malcolm Wood said: "If England could play the whole game as we did in the second half we can beat any side in the world."

Netherlands: G Vogels; B Lomas, D van Weel, T Taekema; S van Weide; P Geeris, J Delmee (capt), T de Nooijer; M Brouwer, M Eikelboom, K Klaver. Substitutes used: R Derikx, R Brouwer, R van Wyjk.

England: J Lewis; R Todd, J Wyatt, T Bertram, J Evennett; J Goudie, M Johnson, J Collins; J Wallis; D Hall (capt), M Pearn. Substitutes used: D Haydon, D Woods, A Humphrey, D Mathews.

Umpires: J Rommel (Ger) & M Grime (Aus).

* Florian Kunz scored a brace as Germany beat South Korea 3-0 last night to maintain their 100 per cent record.