LONDON  - Defending champions the Netherlands moved into the semi-finals of the Olympic women's hockey tournament on Saturday by defeating South Korea 3-2 for their fourth successive victory in London. The Dutch were given a tough contest by Korea before sealing a win that gave them a maximum 12 points at the top of Pool A.

China came back into the race for semi-finals with a 2-1 victory that stopped Great Britain's winning spree. The hosts are still in second place with nine points from four games, while China boosted their tally to seven points. Britain's semi-final prospects now hinge on their last game against the Dutch on Monday, while China will play the group's bottom-placed team Japan, who held Belgium 1-1 to pick their first point in four matches.

Meanwhile Australia rode on Jade Close's early field goal to prevail 1-0 over South Africa and so move ahead of the pack in Pool B with nine points from four matches.  World champions Argentina, New Zealand and Germany, all of whom play later Saturday, are clubbed together on six points from three fixtures. South Korea's Cheon Seul Ki converted two penalty corners to trouble the Dutch, who got all their goals in open play.

Cheon opened the scoring by sending a drag-flick into the top corner in the fifth minute, but the lead lasted just five minutes, later with Kelly Jonker's reverse deflection of captain Maartje Paumen's shot drawing the Dutch level. Ellen Hogg's open-field strike four minutes later gave the Dutch the lead and Carlien Dirkse van den Heuvel made it 3-1 a minute after half-time. Cheon pulled another goal back with a penalty corner shot in the 64th minute to keep South Korea in the contest until the end. The Koreans though have just three points from four matches. "I'm obviously happy to be in the semifinals, but I want to see more goals," said Max Caldas, the coach of the Netherlands team.

Earlier, Close picked up a well directed shot from top of the circle to shoot home in the eighth minute and Australia then managed to defend the lead against the hard-working South Africans, yet to earn a point in four matches.