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ENG 6 v 2 KOR - England made to work but secure three points in opening game
ENGLAND 6 (1)
Alex Danson 32 (FG)
Lily Owsley 39, 50 (PC, FG)
Georgie Twigg 45 (PS)
Kate Walsh 63, 70 (PC, PC)
KOREA 2 (2)
Ki Ju Park 17 (PC)
Seung A Park 20 (FG)
England were put through their paces by Korea in their opening game at the Argentina World League Final in Tucuman, but a strong second half performance saw them come through with what proved to be a comfortable 6-2 victory and secure three points in Pool A.
Speaking after the game England Head Coach Jason Lee said, "It wasn't a great start of course going 2-0 down, but we managed to change a few things around and in the end I thought we quite comfortably won and could have scored even more. I'm also glad we scored quite a few goals because it's such a tight pool of top class teams and I think goal difference could play a big part in deciding positions."
He added, "We're not used to playing Korea, especially having just had the summer with the Europeans, we've got quite used to playing a certain style. I thought it was a really good test for us today and the girls showed great resilience to come through with a 6-2 victory in the end."
England made their fans watch on nervously back home as Korea took a 2-0 lead through Ki Ju Park and Seung A Park inside 20 minutes; however they were to be the only goals of the match for the world number eight side.
England took their time to settle in, but as they got used to the heat they started to press the game and dominate possession. It was England stalwart and ever reliable Alex Danson who made the breakthrough three minutes before the break - a rifling shot from the top of the circle giving England a much needed lifeline as the sides went in at half-time.
The second half was a far more straightforward affair as England turned on the style adding five more goals to their tally. First up, Lily Owsley finished well under pressure from an England penalty corner in the 39th minute to pull the score back level at 2-2. Six minutes later Surbiton's Georgie Twigg remained ever calm under pressure to convert a penalty stroke and give her side the lead for the first time in the game.
From here England were in full control, scoring three more times in the remaining 20 minutes. Owsley added her second of the game when she got in behind Korea's goalkeeper, Sin Hye Lee and she made no mistake as the cross ball found her stick. England Captain Kate Richardson-Walsh has suffered with a slight ankle injury in the run up to this tournament, but she looked as fit as ever as she stepped up to convert two penalty corners with pin point accuracy in the 63rd and 70th minutes.
England goalkeeper Maddie Hinch gave her thoughts on England's performance following the game. "In the end I think it was a real gritty performance from us. To go 2-0 down was disappointing, but we never panicked and to put in a second half performance like that I thought was outstanding and it bodes well for the rest of the tournament. Jason spoke to us at half-time, but I think we'd already started to tidy things up by then. There were just parts of our game that were a bit slack, we seemed to be second to the ball. We know that we like to set the tempo in these games and play with determination, and with five goals in the second 35 minutes I think we did exactly that."
In the other Pool A match of the morning the Netherlands made light work of European Champions Germany with a 6-0 victory to go top of the pool ahead of their clash against England tomorrow at 12:00 (UK time).
Looking ahead to their match against Olympic Champions, the Netherlands, Lee said, "Although we took the victory last time we played them [in the semi-final at the European Championships] it was of course through a penalty shoot out having drawn over the 70 minutes. The pitch here plays much slower and both sides have the heat to contend with. I think a lot will depend on our recovery today and for Holland they play after us and will have even less time to recover before the 9am (12:00 UK time) push back tomorrow morning."
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Photo Credit: Dario Belingheri/Bettini Photo
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photo David Cannon/Getty images