EuroHockey: Germany beat England in semi-final

By Ollie WilliamsBBC Sport in Moenchengladbach, Germany

England will not defend their European hockey title after hosts Germany won a rain-sodden semi-final 3-0.

Heavy rain led to an hour's delay as organisers frantically tried to clear the waterlogged Moenchengladbach pitch.

Philipp Zeller's shot from distance had earlier squeezed past England keeper James Fair. Oskar Deecke and Oliver Korn scored after the stoppage.

England now play Belgium for bronze on Sunday, while Olympic champions Germany will face the Netherlands in the final.

With 20 minutes remaining and England a goal down, the umpires halted play as persistent rain began to flood the pitch.

Volunteers and officials spent more than an hour improvising with upturned tables to rid the playing surface of water, and the match resumed - with rain still falling - at 2310 local time.

"It's just ridiculous. You get a stadium like this, you spend all this money on this, and then you buy a table to clear all the water off," England captain Barry Middleton told BBC Sport.

"I don't really understand how that works. The Germans must have had a plan and must think that's the best way."

Two years ago, England produced some of their finest hockey to earn a shock 5-3 victory over Germany and lift the European title.

But this time the Germans appeared wise to England's strategy, closing down almost all of their first-half attacking forays.

Germany, however, also struggled to carve out chances at first.

Zeller's goal, when it came, might have been dealt with on a different or drier day but instead slid over Fair's pad and into the net.

England threatened from two second-half penalty corners either side of the delay, but both brought smart saves from German goalkeeper Max Weinhold.

Deecke made Germany's victory all but certain with a reverse-stick finish off the glove of Fair with eight minutes remaining, before Korn slid home an easy finish for a third.

"I think 3-0 flattered them in the end. We were always in the game until the second goal hit us quite hard," said Middleton.

"After the rain break I felt we still made the running but it played into their hands. We were behind and the rain made it a slower game.

"They were happy for there to be puddles on the pitch, it slowed our attack down. It was frustrating that we couldn't play our own fast, attacking hockey during the weather."

The English women, whose campaign for European gold ground to an abrupt halt with a tame 2-0 semi-final defeat at the hands of the Netherlands, play Spain for bronze at 1130 BST on Saturday.

The Dutch are searching for their eighth European title in 10 attempts and face Germany in the final at 1400 BST.

Both matches are live on the BBC Sport website (for UK users) and the red button.

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