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Sunday, 28 July, 2002, 22:27 GMT 23:27 UK

England edge epic decider

By Mike Burnett
BBC Sport Online at the Commonwealth Games

England pulled off the performance of a lifetime to deny arch rivals Malaysia a place in the semi-finals, and guarantee a medal for the mixed team event.

Badminton fans witnessed a showpiece spectacle at the Bolton Arena as England held off a fierce challenge to win 3-2 on Sunday night.

Their triumph in the last of the round robin matches allowed England to finish top of group A and go through to the semi-finals.

The tie went down the the wire with women's doubles partners Jo Goode and Gail Emms sealing victory with a 7-3 7-5 7-3 win the fifth rubber.

"The crowd were unbelievable and really lifted us"
Nathan Robertson

"That's the best feeling ever. I feel great and now we can go on and win gold," said Emms afterwards.

England had initially taken the lead in the crucial tie when Emms and Nathan Robertson beat Kim Wai Chang and Pei Tty Wong 7-0 7-0 7-0 in the opening match.

But defending men's singles champion Wong Choong Hann brushed aside England's Colin Haughton and Julia Mann went down to Wong Mew Choo in the women's singles to put Malaysia 2-1 ahead.

Ten experienced men's doubles partners Nathan Robertson and Anthony Clarke pulled England back in a dramatic match against Chan Chong Ming and Choong Tan Fook, leaving Emms and Goode to seal their place in the semis.

"The crowd were unbelievable and really lifted us. If we had lost then we were out and would have gone home without a medal from the team event," Robertson said about his doubles win.

Crucial showdowns also took place in the other groups as the remaining six seeded nations fought it out for a place in the last four.

Singapore provided the shock of the day by upsetting fourth seeds Wales 4-1 in an earlier session and securing their first ever Commonwealth Games medal in the team event.

Only Kelly Morgan managed to get on the scoresheet for Wales by beating Li Li, while men's single star Richard Vaughan lost to Ronald Susilo.

Third seeds Scotland also went through to the semis after their 3-2 win over Australia, while New Zealand reached the last four with their 3-2 triumph over India.

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