GREAT Britain will go for gold against Holland in the Olympic women's hockey final on Friday, with Hampshire star Alex Danson helping them on their way with two goals.

Whatever happens, Britain's women have already confirmed their best performance in Olympic hockey history.

They surpassed bronze medal successes, at Barcelona 24 years ago and London 2012, by beating semi-final opponents New Zealand 3-0 in Deodoro thanks to double from Hampshire's Danson and Helen Richardson-Walsh's penalty strike.

Kate Richardson-Walsh's team have now matched the likes of Sean Kerly, Ian Taylor and Paul Barber, who reached the men's Olympic final at Seoul in 1988.

And they will want to emulate the most famous team British hockey has seen by winning gold, albeit against a Dutch side seeking a hat-trick of Olympic titles.

But they got there the hard way, seeing Crista Cullen and Georgie Twigg go off after suffering blows to the head, then Helen Richardson-Welsh limped away immediately after rifling her penalty home as Britain secured a seventh successive win of the tournament.

The early exchanges were predictably cagey, with a scrappy opening quarter producing few clear-cut chances, but Britain broke the deadlock seven minutes before half-time.

Cullen, one of several players who were involved in the London 2012 campaign when Britain toppled New Zealand 3-1 to take bronze, saw a penalty corner shot well saved, but Danson reacted sharply and forced home the rebound.

The goal undoubtedly settled British nerves, yet New Zealand continued to prove dangerous on the counter-attack, and goalkeeper Maddie Hinch had to be alert to ensure the interval lead was preserved.

Britain lost Cullen early in the third quarter after she collided with a New Zealand player and appeared to take an accidental elbow blow in the head.

Cullen, who won her 100th Great Britain cap earlier in the competition, departed for treatment to a cut, and she was soon followed by team-mate Twigg.

Twigg fell to the ground after the ball deflected off a New Zealand stick and caught her flush in the face, and she left the pitch for further assessment.

They were two undoubted blows for Britain, but they regrouped quickly through a couple of penalty corners that ensured they kept the pressure on.

New Zealand pressed hard for an equaliser, but Britain were boosted by Cullen and Twigg appearing on the bench and being available for a return to action when required.

Helen Richardson-Walsh was then brought down by Kayla Whitelock - Whitelock received a yellow card - and she stroked the ball home to double Britain's advantage.

And with the clock ticking down, Danson struck home another penalty and Britain could celebrate reaching the Olympic final.

mfl Page 2: 23:15 Cullen had stitches in her forehead, while Twigg took a bang to the jaw, but all British players displayed no obvious lasting injury issues immediately after the match.

Cullen said: "Playing the New Zealanders, it is always going to be a physical battle.

"I've got a few stitches, but I've no idea how many. I was just telling him (medic) to hurry up because my team needed me.

"It's a good win, and now we move forward to the final.

"We have worked really hard on our culture, trying to create a winning mentality, and we have a huge amount of attacking threat, which we have demonstrated through numerous scorers in this tournament.

"It is difficult for an opposition team to cover everybody.

"To fight for an Olympic medal is what gets us up every morning, let alone to be in a gold medal match. We are hugely proud of where we have got.

"Our expectation coming here was a gold medal."

And Danson added: "This is something that GB hockey, in terms of the 31 of us who represent this team and every single player who's put on a GB shirt over the last number of years, has been working towards.

"To be going into a final: I can't believe it.

"But it's been one game at a time - momentum, recovery, play and implement the tactics. Then you get back, recover and do it all again. We won't change anything about how we prepare.

"I believe we have the best tactician staff in the world, and we have very intelligent players that can get us out on the field. We were concentrating so hard for the full 60 minutes.

"I am so proud of this team, but defensively we have been absolutely outstanding at this tournament, and I mean that as a whole unit.

" I don't think I have ever seen a team defend like that in our circle. We will take that confidently into the next game, debrief, and off we go."