England beat Spain 4-0 to set up a semi-final clash with Germany on Thursday (August 27) ©EuroHockey Championships

Hosts England claimed a comfortable 4-0 win against Spain in their final Pool A match to secure their place in semi-finals of the men’s EuroHockey Championships at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London tonight.

In a game they never looked like losing, England took the lead in the 20th minute when Ashley Jackson fired a drag flick past Spain goalkeeper Quico Cortes and into the roof of the net.

Four minutes later, Barry Middleton scored his 99th international goal, picking up the rebound from Chris Griffiths’ shot to put England two goals to the good at half-time.

Spain came out fighting in the second-half and threatened to force their way back into the contest, but having weathered the storm, Griffiths followed up on a penalty corner strike in the 43rd minute to hammer the ball beyond Cortes and effectively put the match to bed. 

There was still time for man-of-the-match Jackson to put some extra gloss on the scoreline, tipping in Sam Ward’s initial attempt to complete a good night’s work for the host nation.

"We got the ball, kept it and played with aggression, that is how we wanted to play and it paid off," said England's Henry Weir.

Meanwhile in the other Pool A encounter, The Netherlands cruised into the semi-finals as group winners after beating debutants Russia 8-0.

Mink van der Weerden successfully converted a penalty corner early in the first quarter before Robbert Kemperman tapped in to make it 2-0. 

Goals from Jeroen Hertzberger and van der Weerden, his second of the match and third of the Championships, made it 4-0 at half-time, while two further strikes from Hertzberger in the second half were added to by Constantijn Jonker and Billy Bakker to complete the rout.

The Netherlands trounced Russia 8-0 to secure top spot in Pool A
The Netherlands trounced Russia 8-0 to secure top spot in Pool A ©EuroHockey Championships

In Pool B, Ireland made history by reaching the semi-finals for the first time following a 2-2 draw against Belgium.

The Irish went into their final group game level on points with their opponents, knowing a draw would be enough to seal their qualification because of their superior goal difference.

Belgium twice pegged them back with Sebastien Dockier cancelling out Shane O’Donoghue’s and Florent van Aubel levelling after John Jackson had established a 2-1 lead.

With Ireland beginning to adopt a more defensive approach in the fourth quarter, Belgium had a flurry of penalty corners in the dying minutes but were unable to make use of them as they crashed out at the group stage.

"I’m absolutely delighted," said Ireland’s Alan Sothern.

"We set our objectives at the start of the tournament and that was to get to the semi-finals.

"Now we are in the semi-finals we want to get to the final."

Defending champions Germany proved far too strong for France in the other Pool B clash, coming out 7-2 winners to top the group.

Goals from Florian Fuchs, Niklas Wellen and Moritz Furste put Germany 3-0 ahead at half-time and although Simon Martin-Brisac gave France hope shortly after the restart, it was soon quashed by Fuchs second of the match.

Oskar Deecke and Mats Grambusch chipped in with a goal each before Furste increased his tally to two, but despite finding themselves 7-1 behind, France showed their fighting spirit with a late consolation goal from Martin-Brisac.

Ireland made history by reaching the semi-finals for the first time
Ireland made history by reaching the semi-finals for the first time ©EuroHockey Championships

The men’s semi-finals are scheduled to take place on Thursday (August 27) as The Netherlands play Ireland and Germany encounter England.

The other four teams - Spain, Russia, Belgium and France - all go into Pool C where they will play the two sides they have not met already.

Span’s 9-0 win against Russia in Pool A and Belgium’s victory against France in Pool B mean they already have three points to their names in the fight to finish fifth.

Tomorrow's action is due to see the conclusion of the initial Pool stage in the women's competition.

In Pool A, Spain face Poland before table toppers The Netherlands go up against Belgium.

England do battle with Germany in a fight for top spot in Pool B after Scotland’s meeting with Italy.

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