Hosts Argentina, keeping their goal intact for the fourth successive match, beat England 2-0 on Monday to win Pool B at the women’s hockey World Cup.
With five wins and just two goals conceded in their opener against South Africa, Argentina secured a semi-final against the second-placed team in Pool A, almost certainly Germany or Australia.
Penalty corner specialist Noel Barrionuevo took her tally to five when she put Argentina ahead in the 13th minute and Daniela Sruoga blasted in the second goal from the top of the circle with three minutes remaining.
Argentina’s win avenged a defeat by England in Nottingham in July, the opening match of the Champions Trophy which Argentina recovered to win.
England, second in their pool and unbeaten until Monday, are set to face favorites Netherlands in the other semi-final.
The Dutch were three points clear at the top of Pool A with a 20-6 goals record before yesterday’s final day of the round-robin phase when they meet Japan.
Although Germany and Australia, both on nine points, could still mathematically overhaul the Dutch, they are more likely to be vying for second place in the group. Germany have a superior goal difference of one.
In high scoring games involving Pool B teams with no chance of a place in the semi-finals, Olympic silver medalists China crushed Spain 6-0 and South Korea overcame South Africa 5-3.
China, who began the tournament with an upset defeat by South Korea, found better form to crush the Spanish with four penalty corner goals from Ma Yibo, her first a superb shot into the top corner.
South Korea, level 1-1 at halftime, fell 3-1 behind early in the second half conceding two goals in two minutes to South Africas Cindy Botha.
The Koreans scored four goals in the final 15 minutes, however, to secure third place in the pool ahead of China and qualify for the 5th-6th playoff.