Argentina vs. South Africa – 12:30
Australia vs. United States – 15:00
China vs. Spain – 17:30
England vs. Italy -20:00
England – Spain 1-1 (0-0 halftime)
England took second place in Group B after a 1-1 draw against Spain. The result means that the host nation will face Italy in Thursday’s crucial quarterfinal. The loss sends Spain into third place in the group. They now have a meeting against China in the quarterfinal meeting.
The group was tightly knit, so it seemed only fitting that the last game and the grand finale was a back-and-forth duel with little going on in the way of offense. England had its chances, especially in the first half with several penalty corner chances, but Spain’s defense hung tough and kept things scoreless, frustrating both the pro-England crowd and the 11 players on the field who had hoped to battle for first place in the group.
At last the crowd and the team were rewarded in the 54th minute when Sophie Bray scored on a penalty corner chance to give England the much-awaited lead. Spain was given a penalty stroke chance four minutes later and jumped on the chance to equalize the game. Lola Riera Zuzarregui easily converted the opportunity to put the teams in another deadlock.
The draw gave Australia sole possession of first place in Group B. It also saved the Spanish from a last-place finish in the group, which kept them away from the unenviable task of meeting World #2 Argentina in the quarterfinals. Instead that honor will go to South Africa.
The entire tournament is idle tomorrow to give the teams a chance to prepare for the critical quarterfinal games. Only the winners from the quarterfinals will remain in contention for an automatic berth to the 2014 World Cup – the losers of those games will have to rely on a strong showing in the continental championships.
South Africa – Australia 0-1 (0-0 halftime)
Australia edged South Africa, 1-0, today to climb to the top of the Group B standings in the crucial last game of preliminary round action. Australia now sits with seven points and is guaranteed at least a top-two finish in the group, depending on the outcome of the England vs. Spain game later. The Australians will meet either Italy or the United States in Thursday’s quarterfinal.
The game was a low-scoring defensive affair with solid scoring chances few and far between.
Anna Flanagan, who was presented with the FIH Young Player of the Year trophy at the start of the match, lived up to her top billing when she ended a 43-minute stalemate, firing in the 1-0 goal on a short corner flick that went into the upper left corner.
It would be the only offense in the even, but tepid, game as South Africa wasn’t far off the mark, but was ultimately unable to get over the hump and get a point out of the meeting.
South Africa will close the group in the bottom two, netting only one point in their three games. Depending on the outcome of the England vs. Spain game, the South Africans will take on either Argentina or China in Thursday’s quarterfinal.
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