Hockey: Heberle criticises England's 'workmanlike performance'

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The Independent Online

England's women completed their pool games in the European Nations Cup in Barcelona yesterday with maximum points after gaining a 3-0 win against Ireland and will now almost certainly face the host nation, Spain, in the semi-final on Thursday.

England's women completed their pool games in the European Nations Cup in Barcelona yesterday with maximum points after gaining a 3-0 win against Ireland and will now almost certainly face the host nation, Spain, in the semi-final on Thursday.

England enjoyed the luxury of giving a number of their second-string players an opportunity of extended pitch time while resting Leisa King, who was suffering from a slight knee ligament injury.

After Jane Smith had given England a seventh-minute lead they never looked in trouble, with second-half goals from Helen Grant and Anna Bennett sealing the victory. But the Irish never gave up and might have presented more of a problem had a deflection from Karen Bateman beaten Carolyn Reid rather than rattling against the crossbar.

Tricia Heberle, the England coach, said: "We put on a workmanlike performance against a stubborn opponent. We turned over a lot of possession and were quite sloppy in our attacking circle work.

"These are two critical areas of our game that must be addressed before the semi-finals. We are pleased to have gone through the pool undefeated but today's performance, although achieving the desired outcome, was less than satisfactory."

Scotland's women's team put up a disappointing display in losing 3-1 to Azerbaijan in a low-quality game, in which their consolation goal came from Louise Carroll in the 53rd minute. But the losers will still finish in the top eight of the pool.

Indiscipline cost the Irish men's team dearly in their last pool match. Three times they allowed Belgium back into the 3-3 draw, with the equalising goal coming in the final minute after the Irish had been reduced to 10 men. They are in the play-offs for ninth to 12th places.

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