England strengthen grip on semifinal berth | india | Hindustan Times
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England strengthen grip on semifinal berth

india Updated: Mar 05, 2010 01:25 IST
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Thousands of Indian hockey fans will take vicarious pleasure from the scoreline — England 5, Pakistan 2. For, India too had lost by the same margin to Australia.

For several others, it will be a cause for worry as India are to play England on Saturday and the score signals tough times for the team in the Hero Honda FIH Hockey World Cup.

On Thursday, England strengthened their chances of making the semifinals as they outplayed Pakistan at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium, winning their third match in a row. They now lead Pool B with nine points with Australia next at six.

It was a superb match and England played brilliantly to surge ahead from a 2-2 scoreline to quell a resurgent Pakistan in the second session. England led 2-0 at halftime thanks to goals from Jonty Clarke (20th minute) and Ashley Jackson (32nd).

England played a robust, physical game, running up and down to exploit the gaps in the midfield. Attackers James Tindall, Barry Middleton, and Jonty Clarke were superb while the midfield established early ascendancy. Pakistan won two penalty corners in the first half but failed to capitalise.

However, they fought back strongly after the break and levelled the scores at 2-2 with Shakeel Abbasi giving the finishing touch to a great move and Rehan Butt (49th min) scoring off a PC rebound.

But three minutes after Butt's strike, England forwards sealed the issue with a three-goal blitz. Skipper Barry Middleton led from the front by scoring two goals while Clarke added one to seal the issue in favour of England.