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While England won the tournament, it was China that emerged the day’s biggest winner at the women’s Samsung Hockey World Cup Qualifier in Rome after they belatedly booked their place at this year’s World Cup.
They might have struggled to produce their best form throughout the tournament, but China qualified for the World Cup after defeating France in the fifth place playoff to take the last remaining place at this year’s biggest tournament.
The result of the match was never seriously in doubt, with China dominant against a French team that had played above expectations to be just one win from the World Cup entering the match.
China, the world number five and tournament top seed, had to endure two sudden death matches in the 5-8 classifications.
They scored an early goal to stamp their authority on the contest but they were unable to unlock the French defence for the remainder of the half and led by an uncomfortable one-goal margin at half time.
The favourites earned some breathing room seven minutes after half time before coasting to victory as the teams traded goals approaching full time.
In the final, England scored twice in the final 11 minutes to overtake Korea and end the tournament as the only team with a perfect winning record.
Korea broke a scoreless deadlock eight minutes into the second half and looked to be heading towards victory when England struck, with Rebecca Herbert and Lucilla Wright scoring to give England their second straight victory at the World Cup qualifying tournament after their win in 2001.
Both teams had secured their World Cup participation last weekend, but maintained their quality of performances throughout their next three matches to be clearly the top two nations in the tournament.
As expected, the match was played in a positive tone, as both teams tried to complete a successful tournament on the best possible note.
The first half produced scoring opportunities but no goals for both teams before Korea’s used some luck and skill from Mi Seon Kim to edge ahead in the 42nd minute.
However England’s determination and persistence in attack was rewarded with Herbert deflecting from close range on the right and then Wright guiding her shot low into the corner with less than four minutes remaining for the 151th and final goal of the tournament.
In the playoff for third place, Japan scored two goals in quick succession to pull clear of USA after was match was finely balanced after half time.
Japan lead by a single goal at the break but USA increased their pressure at the start of the second half.
USA’s hard work looked set to be find the equaliser when some defensive turnovers allowed Japan to get more possession inside the USA half, which they converted into a pair of goals in the 51st and 54th minutes to establish an unbeatable lead.
Player of the tournament: Sachimi Iwao (JPN)
Goalkeeper of the tournament: Amy Tran (USA)
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