Great Britain are set for their best ever women’s Olympic finish after they produced an excellent defensive performance and struck quickly on the counter to eliminate New Zealand 3-0.

It means they are guaranteed a best ever finish having previously won a pair of bronze medals in 1992 and 2012, the latter time when they beat the Kiwis in London.

The first half proved a close-knit affair with both sides starting nervily with plenty of mis-controls while penalty corners proved the key moments for scoring openings.

Anita McLaren whizzed a drag-flick inches wide from the first chance while GB let a couple of corners slip by before making one stick in the 22nd minute.

Alex Danson, with her fourth goal of the competition, was the player to pounce, swooping in after Sally Rutherford’s save from Crista Cullen dropped invitingly at the striker’s feet. The Blacksticks saw another corner drag go wide, leaving them 1-0 down at the break.

It stayed that way through the third quarter, New Zealand upping the tempo as GB suffered injuries to Georgie Twigg and Crista Cullen. Olivia Merry had two big chances repelled, one skidding wide, the other cleared off the line by Susannah Townsend after a collision with Maddie Hinch.

But it was GB who scored next as Danson and Helen Richardson-Walsh forged a neat opening down the right wing, the latter weaving her way into the circle. As she bore down on goal, Kayla Whitelock took her down, drawing a yellow card and a stroke which Richardson-Walsh duly converted for 2-0 with 12 minutes to go.

Danson then added an extra insurance goal from a second penalty stroke awarded in quick succession, winning the stroke herself with another run that drew a robust tackle.

They duly held on for the win without too much drama and will now play in their first Olympic final on Friday afternoon. There, they will attempt to repeat their European Championships final victory over the three in-a-row chasing Netherlands.

New Zealand will play Germany for the bronze medal.