England 1 Germany 0

England kept alive their prospects of reaching the World Cup semi-final with a 1-0 victory over Germany, the Olympic Games champions, in Madrid.

Leicester midfielder Helen Richardson converted a penalty stroke in the 38th minute after Germany defender Anke Kuehn illegally stopped a shot with her hand.

The result puts England on seven points and victory over hosts Spain today in their final group match would put them into the last four and guarantee them their highest World Cup finish since Sydney in 1990.

It was a closely-contested match and although England were in control for long periods it was Beth Storry, back in goal after being rested against India on Sunday, who made the first save from a fourth-minute penalty corner.

She was also called upon again midway through the half when Fanny Rinne won a penalty corner but then saw her shot saved and Maike Stoeckel fail to convert the rebound.

From England's second penalty corner of the match in the 30th minute Leicester defender Crista Cullen, who has been nominated for World Hockey Young Player of Year, saw her drag-flick saved by Yvonne Frank.

Three minutes into the second half Frank saved another Cullen set-piece.

But in the ensuing scramble Olton & West Warwickshire player Lucilla Wright saw her scooped shot palmed off the line by defender Anke Kuehn.

Germany brought on reserve goalkeeper Kristina Reynolds to face the penalty stroke but this tactic failed as Richardson slotted home and Reynolds immediately departed.

In the 47th minute, Natascha Keller broke along the left but Kerstin Hoyer could not get a stick on her pull-back.

As the game progressed, play became scrappier with neither side able to retain possession for very long but Germany rarely threatened and England held on for victory.

Coach Danny Kerry said: "I am delighted with our application and effort - I can't really ask for any more.

"It just shows the great character within the team.

"Before the tournament, if I'd been offered the prospect of going into our last group game with a chance of making the semi-finals, I would have taken it, definitely but we have an incredibly tough game against the home side tomorrow."

England, for whom Olton & West Warwickshire's Rachel Walker appeared as a substitute, will make a late decision on whether to include captain Kate Walsh against Spain.

The Slough defender has missed the last two matches because of a knee injury.

Walsh did some light jogging yesterday morning and will be given a tougher workout later.

If there is no adverse reaction, she could play today.