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Germany pip England 2-1, move closer to semis

Riding on the brace by Christopher Zeller, defending champion Germany downed England 2-1 in a high-voltage encounter.

india Updated: Sep 11, 2006 03:05 IST

Riding on the brace by Christopher Zeller, defending champion Germany downed England 2-1 in a high-voltage encounter to move closer to the semifinal berth from Pool B of the hockey World Cup.

For the second successive day, the packed stadium watched another thriller in which the hosts coasted to victory to take their point tally to seven from three matches -- two wins and a draw -- while this was second defeat for England in three matches and with three points from one win, they are now out of reckoning for the last four stage.

Both the teams were levelled 1-1 at half time.

Christopher Zeller scored off a penalty corner in the 24th minute and then converted a stroke in the 42nd minute. For England, Simon Mantell converted a stroke in the 34th minute.

Germany, who finished runners up at the Champions Trophy in Terressa last month, should have won by much higher margin but for some superb saves by the England goalkeeper James Fair.

In the high energy 70-minute encounter, the 12,000 spectators witnessed a fast paced match. The first 10 minutes were dominated by the Germans and though they attacked from all sides, the English defence stood firm and managed to foil all their inroads.

However, the hosts were rattled when the English side launched the counter attacks and in the 12th minutes the defending champions had a narrow escape when Simon Mantell's flick just missed the goal.

The tempo of the match never slackened as the teams got into their grooves and attacked each other's citadel with vehemence.

In the 19th minute, the Germans opened a new front trough Zeller from the right but he fumbled just outside the circle and then four minutes later, Matthias Witthaus made another incisive move only to be foiled by Scott Cordon in the circle.

The Germans mounted the pressure and forced a penalty corner in the 24th minute and this time Zeller, with a powerful drag flick, sent the ball home giving no chance to the English defenders (1-0).

The lead lasted 10 minutes as England mounted counter assaults and just before the breather, Matt Daly moved from the middle but was felled by goalkeeper Ulrich Bubolz in the circle leading to a stroke.

Simon Mantell made no mistake in converting it to draw parity (1-1).

The second half was equally matched with both the teams having some good opportunities. The session was engrossing as it produced string off attacks from both the teams and their defenders holding firm.

England tried to open up the game and made few good sorties but once Alister Wilson fumbled in the circle and then Daly's attempt was foiled by the crowded defence.

The Germans struck in the 42nd minute when Bjoern Emmerling moved up but in the circle he was interrupted by a defender but, in the goalmouth melee, the hit a English defender resulting in a stroke and this time again Zeller was bang on target, with a superb flick.

In the remaining period, both the teams fought hard and players tended to get rough with each other. The Germans forced two more penalty corners but could not make use of them and England's last ditch attempts were foiled by the alert German defence.