Hockey: Scotland finding fine form

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The Independent Online
WHILE ENGLAND rested yesterday after their crushing 10-1 victory over Ukraine, Scotland took centre stage in the Women's European Nations Cup here with a 5-2 win against Lithuania which moved them into second place in their pool behind the Netherlands.

The Dutch swept Russia aside 9-0 with another powerful performance. With each game they reaffirm themselves as the favourites for the gold medal and automatic Olympic qualification.

Against Lithuania, Scotland started with a second-minute goal from Alison Grant, getting the faintest touch to a cross from the right and, although the Lithuanians equalised in the 22nd minute, the Scots were leading at the interval through a Helen Walker goal. Grant collected a second, with Rhona Simpson and Sue Fraser adding the other two.

Coach Mike Gilbert said after the game he was delighted with the result, but added: "The sort of result the team are capable of, but we were still pedestrian at times." To reach the semi-finals, Scotland need France to beat Russia and to avoid a landslide defeat themselves against the Dutch.

England's coach, Maggie Souyave, described the England camp as "bouyant" after training yesterday as they planned for their final pool game against Germany. In Amstelveen four years ago, in her first major tournament in charge, England beat the Germans 1-0 in the pool game and then lost the bronze medal to them 1-0, on the last two occasions the teams met.

England now are a betterprepared unit, are growing in confidence, and have no injury problems. They need to win today to avoid playing the Dutch in the semi-finals.

WOMEN'S EUROPEAN NATIONS CUP (Cologne) Pool A: Scotland 5 Lithuania 2; Russia 0 Netherlands 9. Standings: 1 Netherlands 12pts; 2 Scotland 7; 3 Russia 7; 4 France 4; 5 Lithuania 3; 6 Belgium 1.