England put their Russian blues behind them in Copenhagen today when they defeated the green of Ireland 5-0 to put their European Team Championship campaign back on track.
The emphatic victory means that they need to beat Germany tomorrow afternoon if they are to book their place in the semi-finals – and if that happens there could even be a chance of a revenge match with Russia if they are drawn together in the last four on Saturday.
Russia, of course, defeated England 3-2 in yesterday’s Group 2 opener.
England were strengthened today by the return of captain Rajiv Ouseph and a rare men’s doubles outing in international matches for mixed doubles specialist Chris Adcock.
Chloe Birch gave England a flying start when she defeated Ireland’s Rachael Darragh 21-8 21-8 in 26 minutes. Birch led all the way in the first game but trailed 5-1 in the second before recovering to 7-7 before surging away.
She said: “It was Important to get the team off to a good start. I went out with confidence and played well, particularly in that first set. I’m happy to get a good win.”
Ouseph, who missed the opening defeat against Russia through illness, gave England their second win against Ireland when he defeated 18-year-old Nhat Nguyen 23-21 21-11, saving a game point in the first while taking it on his fourth. But he controlled the second game to make it 2-0.
Ouseph, whose wife Kate gave birth to their first child Zak three months ago, said: I’ve been a bit fluey, half of our team have it. It’s been going around and we’re a small squad. And with Toby (Penty) coming back from injury and Gabby (Adcock) being out we all just have to pitch in and do what we can.
“It was strange seeing (former England coach ) Yvette (Yun Luo) in the other camp. Catching up with her before the game seemed a little bit odd.”
Lauren Smith and Jess Pugh secured England’s winning lead over Ireland with a 21-9 21-17 win over Sara Boyle and Rachael Darragh.
Lauren said: It feels really good to secure the winning lead after yesterday’s disappointment. We were definitely on a mission after that tough loss.
“I don’t think we have a problem if we qualify and end up facing Russia again. I think if we look at the performance we will think we could have done better and it was very small margins that cost us. We have got a chance to redeem ourselves if that happens.”
Jess Pugh, called in to deputise for injured Gabby Adcock, said: “I had a club match in Denmark on Monday night and flew back to London on Tuesday morning and then I get a call saying that I would fly back to Denmark Tuesday evening and was with the team Wednesday. I rushed home, packed and came back.
“We have a strong team and I am honoured to have received the call -up and play my part.”
By now there was no stopping England. Chris Adcock and Chris Langridge teamed up for the first time for more than 10 years to make it 4-0 with a 21-10 21-8 victory over Joshua Magee and Paul Reynolds and it was left to Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith to finish the job with a 21-12 21-16 victory over Sam and Chloe Magee.
Langridge spelled out what England have to do next. “It’s going to be a shoot-out with Germany for the semi-final place. It’s going to be tough as well as there a lot of matches that will be 50-50.
“But if we win that there is the possibility of facing Russia again in semis. In a way I would relish that, try to get revenge.”
In this afternoon’s other match Russia took a winning 4-0 lead over Germany while the Group 1 action resumes tonight with Denmark having won their opener against France 4-1 and Netherlands beating Spain 3-2.
The semi-final draw will take place tomorrow night as soon as the top two in each group is confirmed. With group winners place in opposite halves it’s just a case of a draw to decide who the two runners-up play.
by William Kings (in Copenhagen)
Photo credit to Badminton Europe / Koen Mutton
England 5 Ireland 0
Women’s singles: Chloe Birch bt Rachael Darragh 21-8 21-8
Men’s singles: Rajiv Ouseph bt Nhat Nguyen 23-21 21-11
Women’s doubles: Jessica Pugh & Lauren Smith bt Sara Boyle & Rachael Darragh 21-9 21-17
Men’s doubles: Chris Adcock & Chris Langridge bt Joshua Magee & Paul Reynolds 21-10 21-8
Mixed doubles: Marcus Ellis & Lauren Smith bt Sam & Chloe Magee 21-12 21-16