Euro Hockey: England men destroy France to reach semi-finals

By Ollie WilliamsBBC Sport in Moenchengladbach, Germany

England's men have joined their female counterparts in Euro Hockey's semi-finals after an 8-1 win over France in their final group game in Germany.

An Ashley Jackson hat-trick, two goals each from Richard Alexander and James Tindall, and an Adam Dixon strike gave England an emphatic victory.

"If I can keep getting better every game, that'll be good for the team come the big games," Jackson told BBC Sport.

Host nation Germany will be England's semi-final opponents on Friday.

Germany topped the other four-team group with three wins from three matches and demolished a struggling Russian team 7-0 in their remaining round-robin clash.

England beat Germany 5-3 to lift the European title when the competition was last staged, in 2009.

Now, the defending champions head into Friday's rematch on the back of a strong performance against a French side yet to earn a point at the tournament.

Jackson's opening penalty corner strike should not have found its way past French goalkeeper Henri-Julien Lhomme but, once a goal up, England dominated.

Alexander launched an exuberant finish to make it two and Jackson cleverly tidied up a penalty corner rebound to put England three goals clear at the break.

Fabien Wagner pulled a goal back for France early in the second half but Tindall restored the advantage.

Alexander grabbed his second and Dixon steered home a Nick Catlin cross as England ran riot, though several goals were subject to lengthy video referrals before being awarded.

Jackson, who has spent most of this year out with a pelvis injury before returning in the run-up to this tournament, completed his hat-trick with another penalty corner conversion 15 minutes from time.

Tindall rounded off the rout with an impressive shot into the roof of the net for his second of the game.

"We could have had more, which is the most impressive thing," said Alexander.

"Ashley Jackson is far too talented, really. He's an asset and proving it out there at the moment.

"He's not playing at his best yet and he'd probably admit that, but he's still playing at a world-class level."

Jackson added: "Today I thought my performance was way down - it depends which way you look at it.

"Penalty corners are going to go in, because of the number of chances that we had, so I'm not particularly happy with my performance.

"But the team's winning, we're building at every stage and hopefully we can come together to take it that next step for Germany in the semi-finals."

England's men have a taste for facing the French, having beaten them 8-0 in 2009 to record their biggest victory since 1928.

England's women play the Netherlands in their semi-final at 1730 BST on Thursday.