• Hockey World Cup

Late penalty sends England through to World Cup semi-finals

ESPN staff
June 9, 2014
England will face either Argentina or the Netherlands in the last four © PA Photos

England have reached the semi-finals of the hockey World Cup after Iain Lewers converted a penalty four minutes from time to seal a 3-2 victory against Belgium.

England went into their final Group A game needing to win to qualify for the last four, while Belgium in second place and two points clear of England had to avoid defeat. But Bobby Crutchley's side clinched second spot in the group to join defending champions Australia in the semi-finals following late drama.

German umpire Christian Blasch awarded England a penalty in the 66th minute after ruling Xavier Reckinger prevented Ashley Jackson's shot from going in. Belgium contested the decision as Reckinger claimed the ball had hit his hand and not his body and called for Blasch to hand the decision to the video umpire.

However, Blasch said only goal decisions were going to be referred to the video umpire and he stuck by his original decision to award the penalty stroke, to which Lewers converted to seal a dramatic victory.

"We did it the hard way as normal but I couldn't be happier with a World Cup semi-final," Catlin said.

"We defended brilliantly, broke on the counter and totally deserved the win. It was a total team performance but it was our defence that won the game.

"Those last few minutes felt like a lifetime but thankfully it's all done and we've got a very big game to prepare for now."

Thomas Briels gave Belgium the lead after 13 minutes, but England equalised six minutes later through Nick Catlin.

England then led through Jackson in the 39th minute, but Belgium hit back in the 63rd minute through Tanguy Cosyns. However, Lewers held his nerve to score from the penalty spot to set up a semi-final encounter against hosts Netherlands or Argentina.

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