China and France walk tightrope
04 May 2006 20:19
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China and France remain in contention for a place at the World Cup after surviving classification matches at the women’s Samsung Hockey World Cup Qualifier in Rome today.
France’s survival at the expense of New Zealand was the day’s biggest surprise. With injuries disrupting their campaign, New Zealand had struggled all tournament to produce the type of form that justified their world number six ranking and faced a committed French team who capitalised on a rare scoring chance in the second half to snatch victory.
In the other classification match, Ireland’s World Cup hopes were shattered by an impressive China. After battling like New Zealand to find form in the preliminary rounds, China finally discovered some of their touch in front of the net to crush the Irish.
China and France will contest the fifth place playoff on Saturday with the winner to earn the 12th and final berth at the Samsung Hockey World Cup in Madrid later this year.
In the semi finals between the teams that have already secured their World Cup tickets, a dramatic goal after the siren to signal the end of sudden death extra time gave England a 1-0 win over USA and move them into the final on Saturday.
Chloe Rogers’ strike in the final play of extra time put the exclamation mark on a tough and highly competitive semi final, with USA unlucky not to force the match to a penalty stroke shoot out.
In the final, England will face Korea after they were too strong for Japan in the second semi final.
Like the first semi final, the match was a tightly contested, exciting battle until Mi Hyun Park broke the deadlock midway through the second half to give her team the vital edge.
In the day’s earlier matches, Azerbaijan defeated Ukraine and Scotland were victorious against Italy to set up a clash for ninth place tomorrow. Ukraine and the home team will playoff for the bottom two places also on Friday.