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England maul Pakistan 5-2 in heated encounter

March 04, 2010 21:38 IST

European champions England virtually assured themselves a place in the semi-final of the hockey World Cup after thumping Pakistan 5-2 to continue their unbeaten run in the tournament in New Delhi on Thursday.

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 the margin with goals 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 the video umpire rejected the goal because of the stick being raised too high.

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 goal.

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 as he wasted another scoring chance in the 40th minute, hitting straight to the English goalkeeper Pakistan's third short corner.

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 short corner.

With the scores tied 2-2, the match turned 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.

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