Major Dhyanchand National Stadium, New Delhi: European champions England virtually assured themselves a place in the semifinal of the hockey World Cup after thumping Pakistan 5-2 to continue their unbeaten run in the tournament here today.
Captain Barry Middleton (52nd, 65th) led from the front with two goals while James Tindall (20th), Ashley Jackson (32nd) and Jonty Clarke (62nd) scored a goal each to complete Pakistan`s misery in the high-voltage Pool B match.
Pakistan reduced margin through Shakeel Abbasi (45th) and Rehan Butt (49th).
England started the match with a flourish and sounded the board in the fourth minute when Iain Mackay`s spectacular overhead shot beat Pakistan custodian Salman Akbar all ends up.
But to the disappointment of the English side, Pakistan appealed against the shot and video umpire rejected the goal
because of high stick.
Rehan Butt got a fine opportunity to send his side ahead
in the first 10 minutes of the game but he shot wide.
England`s consistent pressure finally yielded result in
the 20th minute when Tindall broke the deadlock with a field
Stung by the early strike, Pakistan pressed hard for the
equaliser and earned two penalty corners but on both occasions
England goalkeeper James Fair`s great anticipation thwarted
Sohail Abbas. Three minutes from the interval, an unmarked Ashley
Jackson compounded Pakistan`s misery when he pushed in a great
cross from Barry Middleton from outside the circle to go into
the lemon break with a 2-0 lead.
The break did very little to help the Pakistani side as
England started from where they left and earned their second
penalty corner in the opening minute of the second half, but
this time the Pakistani defence stood tall to deny the
European champions another goal.
Abbas was off-colour with his drag-flicks today as he
wasted another scoring chance in the 40th minute, hitting
straight to the English goalkeeper Pakistan`s third short
Pakistan finally reduced the margin in the 45th minute
through hard-working Shakeel Abbasi, who kept his cool to
score from an English defensive lapse.
Two minutes later, Rehan Butt drew parity from close
range after Abbas had failed to find the net from yet another
With the scores tied 2-2, the match turned little ugly
with both the teams going for hard tackle in search of the
winner. Jolted by Pakistan`s comeback, the Englishmen lost their
cool, which resulted in a yellow card for mid-fielder Mackay
for a dangerous tackle on an opponent.
But it was not to be Pakistan`s day as Middleton scored
from short distance to give England a 3-2 lead.
Pakistan conceded two more field goals in the last 10
minutes of the match with Clarke and Middleton finding the net
in the 62nd and 65th minutes.
With three out of three wins, England are more or less
through to the last four stage while Pakistan still has an
outside chance of progressing.
England will take on India in their penultimate pool match
on Saturday while Pakistan cannot afford to lose against a
South Africa in their next outing.