The Netherlands and England became the first sides to qualify for the semi-finals of the women’s EuroHockey Junior Championships as they won their second successive games in Valencia.

Pool A is now a direct battle between Spain and Belgium for the second semi-final place while Pool B could see either France or Germany advance on Thursday. Wednesday sees the men play their second series of group games.

Women’s EuroHockey Junior Championships

Pool A: Netherlands 4 (Y Jansen 2, M Veen, G Zerbo) Spain 2 (B Iglesias, L Barrios)

The Netherlands guaranteed they will top Pool A of the women’s EuroHockey Junior Championships following a 4-2 win over Spain in a cracking game under the lights in Valencia.

The hosts took the lead in the 10th minute when Belen Iglesias guided home at head height from Laura Brughera’s cross following some nice trickery to break into the circle. The Dutch equalised moments later in brilliant fashion as Kyra Fortuin used her speed to out-strip the cover defence down the right. She popped the ball across to Marijn Veen at the back post to score her second goal of the tournament.

Yibbi Jansen swapped the lead around when she nailed the first of her two drag-flicks to make it 2-1 at half-time for the Dutch. Ginella Zerbo extended the lead further in the 36th minute when Fortuin smashed a ball into the circle where the striker was able to switch onto her backhand and into the roof of the goal.

England celebrate their win over Germany. (c) Frank Uijlenbroek/World Sport Pics

Jansen’s second corner made it 4-1 but Spain were not done and they scored a classy second goal when Clara Ycart laid on the perfect backhand pass to Laura Barrios. She applied a composed finish to the roof of the net.

Captain Veen said of the win: “It’s amazing to be in the semi-final. We played a good game but we can score more goals. Spain was a good team but every game we play together is nice and we enjoy it!”

Pool B

Ireland 0 France 1 (Y Lhopital)

Yohanna Lhopital’s 59th minute goal saw France continue their superb start to the competition, making it four points out of six and two clean sheets. She latched onto a breaking ball after Ines Lardeur fired in a left-wing cross, the 17-year-old slapping home from mid-circle to cap a fine performance.

Speaking afterwards, Lhopital said it has been a memorable tournament to date for a side that featured 14 of the players that lined out in the senior European Championships II.

“We are really happy to have won. At the last competition in Cardiff with the seniors was really hard so we are really happy to get the win. We are a close group inside and outside the pitch and we really feel that when we are on the pitch.”

As for what it would mean to reach the Junior semi-finals, she said: “A dream come true!”

It was an extremely close game with very few chances as the rain soaked the pitch in Valencia. France had the one corner of the first half while Abbie Russell went closest for Ireland. The second half saw Ireland take on more of the ball with Sorcha Clarke to the fore but they could not score from their two corners.

France remained patient with their counter-attack game and eventually got their reward in the closing minutes.

England 1 (C Daly) Germany 0

England became the first country to reach the semi-finals from Pool B as they clung on to a narrow 1-0 win over Germany. In the end, Charlotte Daly’s ninth minute goal was the difference

It was beautifully worked with Holly Hunt and Esme Burge producing an excellent exchange in the build-up with Daly applying the finish. For Germany, they applied pressure all the way through the tie, ramping up the intensity in the second half with a series of penalty corners as England attempted to make hay on the counter-attack.

During this phase, goalkeeper Miriam Pritchard came into her own with multiple saves, keeping calm in a packed circle to save numerous times. Holly Munro also made a series of interventions to ensure the clean sheet, though they did need help from the post to deny Maike Schaunig.

Pritchard refused to take any of the major credit for the clean sheet after her stunning performance: “The team worked bloody hard for each other. We pride ourselves on our grit and we gritted that one out completely. Yeah, I made a few saves but I wouldn’t have done it without my defenders making some excellent tackles. Everyone worked very hard.”

And now she is looking forward to ensuring her side top the group on Thursday when they meet France.

“When we played Ireland, we thought only about Ireland; when we played Germany, we thought only about Germany. France in two days time and that’s our big focus.”

** All games on Pitch One will be streamed via www.ehlhockeytv.org

Upcoming women’s matches:

 Thursday 31 August 2017                                                                                         

09.00

WB

Ireland

v

Germany

Pitch 2

09.00

WB

England

v

France

Pitch 1 *

17.45

WA

Belgium

v

Spain

Pitch 1 *

Tomorrow’s men’s matches:

Wednesday 30 August 2017                                                                                     

09.00

MB

Ireland

v

Austria

Pitch 1 *

11.15

MB

Belgium

v

Germany

Pitch 1 *

17.45

MA

England

v

Netherlands

Pitch 1 *

20.00

MA

Spain

v

Portugal

Pitch 1 *