Alex Danson’s 100th international goal was the catalyst for a brilliant England comeback as they finished level with The Netherlands at the end of a superb game in London.
The hotly anticipated rematch ended with two goals apiece, but this time it was the visitors who emerged victorious following an epic shootout.
Danson’s landmark goal shortly before the end of the third quarter halved the Dutch deficit after Laura Nunnink and Laurien Leurink gave the world number one side a two-goal lead at half-time.
Sophie Bray then levelled the scores with eight minutes left to take the game to penalties, with the visitors exacting their revenge by winning 4-3 as both sides once again put on a spectacular showcase.
Coming off the back of a tough fixture against Argentina yesterday, England found themselves behind in just the third minute as Nunnink turned home a superb cross from Frederique Matla.
England dominated possession thereafter but their opponents struck on the counter attack in the 15th minute as Leurink slapped a wicked shot past Maddie Hinch after a powerful run.
Never a side to be deterred England continued to press, although they were forced to rely upon Hinch on a few occasions as she produced some outstanding saves to keep their opponents out.
They then managed to break through a compact Dutch defence in the 42nd minute as Danson squeezed a shot underneath Josine Koning after great work down the right from Susannah Townsend.
Now with the momentum and a fantastic crowd roaring them on it seemed inevitable England would equalise and that they duly did as a diving Bray nudged Townsend’s breathtaking cross into the Dutch goal in the 52nd minute.
The drama didn’t end there though as Hinch produced two more cracking saves from penalty corners to ensure the tie ended level, taking it to a shootout.
Danson – England’s captain for the summer – then led from the front as she scored the first penalty to give her side the early advantage.
However she also had a penalty stroke well saved by Anne Veenendaal as the Dutch moved into a 2-1 lead with one player each left to take a penalty.
With the hopes of a boisterous capacity crowd resting on her shoulders, Rio hero Hollie Webb stepped up and calmly rounded Veenendaal to level the scores before Hinch saved from Leurink to take it to sudden death.
Both sides then scored and missed one apiece before Webb thought she had scored the winner, only for it to be ruled out after the ball was deemed to have touched her foot.
Matla then found a way past Hinch with a shot that proved to be the winner as Nicola White’s penalty stroke following a foul on Sophie Bray was well saved by Veenendall.
Overall, it was a magnificent advert for the sport, on and off the pitch. With goals galore, drama, hundreds of kids on the pitch after the game and much more besides, there were countless reasons to come away from Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre with a smile.