Champions Trophy: GB women fight back to hold Netherlands

Crista Cullen rifled home two penalty corners to haul GB back from a two-goal deficit and earn a creditable 2-2 draw with the Netherlands in Argentina.

Goals from Naomi van As and Kim Lammers sent the world number one Dutch ahead in the first half, while Britain missed two penalty strokes in 40C heat.

However, two venomous Cullen strikes levelled the game and keeper Abi Walker made vital saves on her birthday.

Britain remain top of their Champions Trophy pool with one group game left.

They will take on China on Tuesday at 1800 GMT, their third successive game in what have so far proved sweltering temperatures at the venue in Rosario, with stormy weather forecast.

To get back to two-all versus the Olympic champions was something really special

Crista Cullen

And clouds gathered early in Sunday's British display as Walker, handed goalkeeping duty against the Olympic champion Dutch as a 30th birthday present, raced out to narrow the angle only for the ball to squeeze past and be converted into an empty net by Van As.

Controversy then erupted at the other end as an umpire awarded Britain a penalty stroke despite the ball appearing to be on the way into the Dutch net, and the pressure on GB increased when skipper Kate Walsh missed the subsequent attempt.

As the half drew to a close Lammers clipped a reverse-stick finish beneath Walker, having been given far too much space, and the Netherlands duly forced Britain to chase the game with a spell of tempered possession play.

But Walsh's side came out fighting for the second half and, having engineered a penalty corner, Cullen finished strongly to the left of Dutch goalkeeper Joyce Sombroek to snatch a goal back.

Cullen subsequently joined Walsh as a penalty stroke culprit, Sombroek saving well after Helen Richardson had been fouled, but made amends with a second penalty corner strike that rattled the bar before settling over the line.

Alex Danson holds her hand to her face in disappointment

GB were left distraught as an umpiring decision appeared to rob them of a goal

"To get back to two-all versus the Olympic champions was something really special," said Leicester defender Cullen.

"It's difficult to focus in the heat but it's just as hot for them. Our fitness is really going to show towards the end of this tournament - that's what we work so hard for. It's a hot day but they've got exactly the same conditions, so no excuses.

"It's always great to be scoring but those girls were out there winning penalty corners for me to get the opportunity."

Of her penalty stroke miss, the 26-year-old added: "It was a great save, sometimes in the heat those things happen. But to fight back to 2-2 is testament to these girls."

Japan's earlier 2-1 defeat by China means Britain remain top of Pool A by virtue of their hard-fought draw, ahead of the Dutch on goal difference with China third and Japan fourth.

All eight teams from the group stage will go through to the quarter-finals, with group standings used to determine the match-ups. Britain look likely to face one of New Zealand or South Korea as things stand.

Each GB match of the tournament, ranked third in international importance behind the Olympics and World Cup, will be shown live on the BBC red button.

FIH Champions Trophy

  • Venue: Rosario, Argentina
  • Date: 28 January-5 February 2012

Coverage: All GB matches live on BBC red button. Group stage: GB v China 1800 Tue 31 Jan (all times GMT). Highlights available on BBC Sport website (UK users only).