2012 Olympic Games (women), London
(Photo: Frank Uijlenbroek)
Belgium vs. Great Britain 0-3 (half-time 0-1)
Great Britain struggled during a period but ended with a third win despite a strong show from the Belgian team. Great Britain now join The Netherlands at the top of Pool A.
The match started in a Riverbank Arena filled to the brim and graced by the presence of Prince Edward and his wife Sophie of Wessex. Cheered enthusiastically by the home crowd, the British women immediately pushed forward but Belgium continued on the momentum of their excellent match against China and held tight, containing the British players, possibly too eager to score fast.
First real chance was for Nicola White receiving the ball alone in the circle, but she was prevented to shoot by a quick intervention of Belgian goalkeeper Aisling D'Hoogue, playing boldly on the big stage at the tender age of 17. Belgium were shaken around by Great Britain, ranked twelve spots above them in the world, but they were holding well. It is only with two minutes to go in the period that Ashleigh Ball managed to find the ball in a goalmouth scramble to open the scoring for Great Britain.
Great Britain were quick off the blocks in second period and immediately created havoc in the Belgian circle. In the 45th minute, Laura Bartlett received the ball in good position, turned quickly to eliminate three defenders and surprised the goalkeeper to score the second goal for a more comfortable British lead.
The first penalty-corner of the match only happened in the 55th minute after Alex Danson was taken down in the circle, but it was weakly executed and did not produce anything. Belgium were far from beaten though, and were close to score on a rocket from Emilie Sinia that nearly surprised Beth Storry in the British goal.
Great Britain added a last goal on penalty-corner by Crista Cullen and ended the day with a third win which put them on top of Pool A with The Netherlands.
For more information on BEL v GBR, click here.
China vs Netherlands 0-1 (0-1 half-time)
Maartje Goderie’s 11th minute strike saw the Netherlands maintain their perfect start to the campaign, running up a solid if unspectacular victory over China. Her excellent run and low shot capped a fine start to the game but, thereafter, a stalemate occurred as China remained compact in defence and the Dutch were unable to find a way through. Nine corners also went unconverted as Ren Ye ran down the barrel and Zhang Yimeng was a brick wall in the pads. But they created little on the counter-attack to threaten a shock result.
Early on, Netherlands threatened to run riot. Kelly Jonker’s sweep went inches wide a mere 30 seconds into the game while Zhang Yimeng did well to deny Kitty van Male. But China could do nothing to prevent Maartje Goderie from racing down the left baseline before cutting back and smashing home in the 11th minute.
The tie quietened down moving into the second quarter as China gained a foothold of sorts, stemming the flow of chances. And Zhao Yudiao had their best opening, getting two bites at a bouncing ball, Joyce Sombroek denying both efforts. It was as good as it got for the Asian side as they endured 17 minutes worth of second half suspensions with Xu Xiaoxu getting ten minutes while Gao Lihua and Song Qingling also took enforced rests.
It opened space for the Dutch to win six second half corners but Ye Ren kept getting in the way, taking a number of balls to the body, while switch moves did not produce the desired effect. From play, Kim Lammers’ near post deflection was the pick of the chances but she was unable to add to her tournament tally of four goals. It moves the Dutch to the edge of semi-final qualification while China will require favours elsewhere if they are to progress.
For more info on CHN vs NED, click here
Korea vs Japan 1-0 (half-time 0-0)
Cheun Seul Ki’s solitary strike handed Korea a deserved first victory of Group A, condemning Japan to a third straight loss, finally breaking through at penalty corner time – one successful effort from nine attmepts. That stat illustrated the Korean domination as Japan struggled to get a grip on the game after a good early spell.The first half was a slow burner as the two evenly matched sides – Korea eighth and Japan ninth in the world rankings. – took their time to figure out the best plan of attack. For Japan, it was through swift moves down the flanks. From the pick of these, Izuki Tanaka almost jinked her way in from the right but Jang Soo Ji did well to block. Rika Komazawa was similarly threatening.
Korea, however, bounced back, surprisingly while Park Seon Mi – on her 30th birthday – served out a yellow card offence. During her absence, they won the first of their three corners, dragged inches wide by Lee Son Ok. Kim Da Rae also went close on the reverse as the tie opened up but no goals accrued before the interval. A glut of second half corners should have seen them home and dry by a comfortable margin but, in the end, just the one sufficed as Cheon Seul Ki picked out the top corner in the 42nd minute.It was just reward for their attacking intentions, controlling the play and picking off numerous interceptions in key areas as Japan struggled to make a mark. Five further corners followed with Lee Seon Ok dragging just over, Cheon Seul Ki rattling the crossbar while Nagisa Hayashi was forced to save another off the line. Cheon had another batted away by Sakiyo Asano’s stick while Japan never truly threatened in the second period.
The result gets Korea off the mark and can now look upwards in the table for their battle with the Netherlands on Saturday while Japan meet Belgium hoping for a first result.