S. Thyagarajan

HOCKEY / Pakistan, Australia suffer bruising losses

Kuala Lumpur: In an exhilarating demonstration, Germany and the Netherlands elevated the quality of hockey to a different dispensation sharing six goals alike in the Champions Trophy on Wednesday. Any other outcome would have been a travesty of justice.

Casting aside the gloom of a 6-2 drubbing at the hands of the Koreans on Monday, the Dutch were on a mission to prove that that result was an aberration. They did that emphatically. Leading 2-1 at half time, they trailed 2-3 in the final minutes before a brilliant goal by Rob Reckers brought them on par.

All the six goals — two of them from penalty corners — were delightful to behold, both for their conception and execution.

The Dutch matched the flourish and fluency of their youthful rivals. If Florian Evers and Reckers forked up eye-catching sallies, Florian Keller was the star for the Germans.

Initially, the Dutch were on the ascendancy, which was confirmed by the immaculate penalty corner conversion by Taeke Takema. But the Germans were up to the challenge — Keller producing a superb flick down the carpet. An enchanting solo by Rogier Hofman put the Dutch ahead, going into the break.

There was not a hint of tempo diminishing after that. It was the Germans who called the tune. Montag’s splendid strike was followed by an equally skilful shot by Keller. For a moment, it looked as though the Dutch were again destined to finish on the losing side.

But Reckers pulled it back.

While Germany is well ahead with a tally of 13 points, inching towards the final, the Dutch have eight. What added an element of suspense in deciding the finalists was the defeat of Australia at Spain’s hand by the odd goal in five.

The Aussies have nine points while Spain has five.

Crushing defeat

Pakistan suffered a humiliating 4-1 defeat to Britain in a rain-interrupted contest, raising questions over its automatic place in the next edition of the Champions Trophy at Rotterdam.

Haphazard approach work pushed Pakistan into a minefield of errors. The Britons were only too willing to capitalise on them. Once Barry Middleton struck, midway through, the side asserted its supremacy in the rival zone, enhancing the lead 3-0 at half time.

Britain has a tally of six points.

What compounded the agony for Pakistan were yellow cards for Muhammad Imran, who scored the lone goal for the side, and skipper Salman Akbar in the final minutes.

Korea picked up full points with a final minute goal by You Hyo Sik against Malaysia, after trailing 1-2 at half-time.

The results: Great Britain 4 (Barry Middleton, Rob Moore, Simon Mantell, Richard Alexander) beat Pakistan 1 (Muhammad Imran); The Netherlands 3 (Taeke Takema, Rogier Hofman, Rob Reckers) drew with Germany 3 (Florian Keller 2, Jan Marco Montag); Spain 3 ( Eduard Tabau, Jordi Clapes 2) beat Australia 2 (Luke Doerner, Mark Knowels); South Korea 3 (Jong Jang Hyun, Oh Da Keun, You Hyo Sik) beat Malaysia 2 ( Selvaraju, Azlan Misron).

Thursday’s matches: Australia v The Netherlands (1:35 p.m.); Pakistan v Korea (3:35 p.m.); Spain v Great Britain (4:05 p.m.); Germany v Malaysia (5:35 p.m.)

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