Hockey: Loss checks England's progress

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The Independent Online

England wilted in temperatures in the upper thirties and the humidity of the Bukit Jalal Stadium when they faced Malaysia in their fourth game of the World Cup on Saturday, losing 2-1 to the host nation. With this defeat, England's dreams of a semi-final place just about faded and their fate has now been taken out of their hands.

England wilted in temperatures in the upper thirties and the humidity of the Bukit Jalal Stadium when they faced Malaysia in their fourth game of the World Cup on Saturday, losing 2-1 to the host nation. With this defeat, England's dreams of a semi-final place just about faded and their fate has now been taken out of their hands.

Playing well below their best form for just about an hour, England allowed Malaysia to score goals at the beginning of each half and only in the final 10 minutes did they put up any real challenge. David Mathews pulled a goal back at a penalty corner in the 64th minute as England came back into the game for the closing 10 minutes, but by this time Malaysia had grown in confidence and were able to repulse everything England threw at them. England play Japan today and must realistically settle for a place in the 5th-8th places play-offs.

While England rested yesterday, Pool A took the stage with the favourites Germany going to the top, following their 1-0 win over the Netherlands. Germany hit the post three times before finally breaking the deadlock, Bjorn Michel's 56th-minute penalty corner flick ensuring maximum points. The goal saw Michel become Germany's all-time record scorer with 155 international goals.

Pakistan resurrected their hopes of a semi-final place with a 2-0 victory over Spain, who now have only an outside chance of making the last four, thanks to second-half goals from Ali Raza and Atif Bashir.

South Africa won their first game of the tournament in the 3-0 victory over pointless Belgium, their goals coming from three with English club connections, Surbiton's Greg Nicol, Hampstead's Justin King and Tulse Hill's Mike Cullen.

In the fourth game, Reading's Ken Robinson and Simon Towns were on the losing side as Argentina beat New Zealand 3-1. The penalty corner specialist Jorge Lombi gave the South Americans the lead after just three minutes. The Kiwis drew level six minutes later when Philip Burrows converted a penalty corner, but Matias Vita restored Argentina's lead four minutes before half-time. Mario Almada secured victory for Argentina four minutes from time.

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