EuroHockey Championships 2019: England beat Ireland 2-1 in opener

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EuroHockey Championships: England women win Euro opener 2-1 against Ireland
EuroHockey Championships
Venue: Wilrijkse Plein, Antwerp Date: 16-24 August
Coverage: The BBC will be showing all home nations matches live on the BBC Sport website and connected TVs

A superb Giselle Ansley goal secured England's women a hard-earned win over Ireland in their opening EuroHockey Championships match in Antwerp.

Suzy Petty put England ahead in the final action of the opening quarter, sweeping home from close range.

And Ansley struck from a penalty corner just before half-time when her drag flick found the roof of the net.

Beth Barr got Ireland back into it in the third quarter but England held on thanks to late saves from Maddie Hinch.

Petty was visibly thrilled with her first England goal but the win owed much to the experience of Hinch.

She was in inspired form and after Ansley's finish, kept England two-up at half-time with a fine save to deny Elizabeth Colvin.

With just two minutes of the fixture left, she saved again with her feet, ensuring England go into Monday's game with Germany off a winning start; Ireland play Belarus on the same day.

"We knew it would be a tough, physical game and I thought we started really well," said England coach Mark Hager.

"It was good to score from our penalty corners and we want to build on that performance for tomorrow as we know that too will be a tough one."

The winner of the championships, which conclude on 25 August, will secure qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Should Mark Hager's England side secure the title, they would consequently qualify Great Britain for the women's event at the Tokyo Games.

If England do not win the tournament in Belgium, Great Britain will play in a two-legged winner-takes-all Olympic Qualifier in November.

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