Great Britain's women's hockey team are guaranteed at least a silver medal at Rio 2016 after advancing to their maiden Olympic final. Danny Kerry's side, who defeated Spain earlier this week to maintain their 100% record at the tournament, will battle the Netherlands for gold on Friday night following a bruising 3-0 win over New Zealand.
After a goalless first quarter, GB were awarded a penalty corner eight minutes before the break. Crista Cullen's initial strike was saved by goalkeeper Sally Rutherford, but Alex Danson was first to the rebound and she scooped home her fourth goal of the tournament from close range via a heavy deflection off the stick of Brooke Neal.
The contest was fast, intense and frequently brutal, with Cullen requiring medical attention after a successful tackle and Georgie Twigg taking a painful blow to the mouth. Helen Richardson-Walsh doubled the advantage during the early stages of the fourth and final quarter, dusting herself off to successfully convert a penalty stroke into the bottom corner of Rutherford's net after being upended by Kayla Whitelock.
The Black Sticks, who lost 3-1 to the same opponents during the bronze medal match at London 2012, desperately needed to maintain their composure at this stage to retain any hope but conceded a second penalty in quick succession when Lily Owsley was wiped out in the area by Liz Thompson. Danson stepped up to score in exactly the same place and equal her Olympic goalscoring exploits from four years ago.
GB will have to be at their very best to beat a formidable Netherlands team that have won the last two Olympic golds on offer and not failed to medal since the Barcelona Games of 1992. Currently ranked at number one by the International Hockey Federation (IFH), they are also the reigning world champions and finished as runners-up to Argentina in the 2016 Champions Trophy earlier this summer.
The Dutch topped Group A in Rio with four wins and one draw from five fixtures before gaining revenge on Argentina in the last eight. They secured their latest final berth earlier on Wednesday via a nervy 4-3 penalty shoot-out victory over Germany that followed a 1-1 tie in normal time.