S. Thyagarajan

MONCHENGLADBACH: With a display that was striking and majestic, Australia, fighting to regain the hockey World Cup it won two decades ago, swamped New Zealand 7-1 to gain a semifinal berth here on Tuesday.

In fact, the result in Pool A rendered Wednesday's Pakistan-Australia tie irrelevant as far as the latter is concerned. The only immediate target left for Australia is to top the group. At the moment it has nine points.

Pakistan, with five points, needs an outright win to avoid the possible embarrassment of finding itself contesting for a place between nine and 12. A win against Australia may help the team to figure in the five-eight zone.

A brief respite

Australia sparkled, except for a brief period after Jaime Dwyer gave his team the lead in the second minute. Australia suddenly looked laboured in its approach work, allowing New Zealand's Mitilesh Patel to equalise.

However, a peach of a goal by Mike McCann galvanised the Aussie attack and there was no turning back. Connecting a cross from Travis Brooks, diving yards in front, McCann deflected the ball into the net.

And that unleashed a flurry of movement in which Brooks, Troy Elder and Jaime Dwyer figured prominently. At the interval, Australia was up 3-1.

Japan stuns Argentina

Japan produced a stunning performance to overwhelm giant-killer Argentina 4-3, with the match winner surfacing just two minutes before the hooter in the Pool A tie. Argentina led 2-1 at half-time.

Argentina was repeatedly overpowered by the Asian team, which recovered from a deficit more than once.

The outcome effectively denied a place for Argentina in the group of 5-8. Argentina finished the programme with four points while this was Japan's first win in four games. Japan will play Spain on Wednesday.

On Monday, Taeke Takema scored twice in the second half to keep Netherlands in the hunt by overcoming England 4-3.

The results: Pool A: Australia 7 (Jaime Dwyer 2, Mike McCann, Matt Nylor, Troy Elder, Travis Brooks, Luke Doerner) bt New Zealand 1 (Mitilesh Patel). Japan 4 (Ito 2, Ozawa, Sakamoto) bt Argentina 3 (Rodrigo Vila 2, Lucas Camareri). Pool B: Netherlands 4 (Teun di Nooijer, Ronald Brouwer, Taeke Takema 2) bt England 3 (James Tindell, Richard Mantell, Matt Daly).

Wednesday's matches: Spain vs. Japan (5:30 p.m.); Germany vs. Korea (7:50 p.m.); South Africa vs. England (10 p.m.); Australia vs. Pakistan (12 midnight).

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