Hockey: Smith leads England's victory charge

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The Independent Online

The England women's team opened their European Cup campaign here last night with an 8-0 win against Italy. After squandering a penalty corner opportunity in the opening minute, it took England just seven minutes to open their account with Jane Smith scoring the first of her two goals with a powerful reverse-stick shot.

A similar goal from Rachel Walker in the 24th minute sent England into the interval with a 2-0 lead. Although England conceded a string of penalty corners resulting in several good saves from Carolyn Reid, goals came regularly after the interval from Anna Bennett, Helen Grant, Leisa King, Mel Clewlow and Lucilla Wright. A worrying thought for England's coach, Tricia Heberle, will be that her team scored just once from nine penalty corners.

Germany's women had opened the day's proceedings before a handful of spectators with an 8-3 win against the Ukraine. Later in the day Lynsey McVicker finished off a penetrating drive through the Welsh defence to score a 24th-minute goal with a cracking shot to give Ireland a 1-0 victory.

EUROPEAN NATIONS CUP (Barcelona) MEN: Pool A France 3 Russia 0. WOMEN: Pool A Germany 8 Ukraine 3. Pool B Wales 0 Ireland 1, England 8 Italy 0.

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