Canada pleased the home crowd with a strong performance against Trinidad & Tobago to grab first place of Pool B; despite a win against Brazil (5-0), Chile is relegated to the second tier of the competition.
Match 12 - Canada vs. Trinidad & Tobago 3-1 (half-time: 3-1)
Before the last match of pool play, Trinidad & Tobago were leading Pool B with 6 points (2 wins), with Canada and Chile just behind with 4 points (1 win and 1 draw). Trinidad & Tobago were qualified for the semi-final whatever the result of the game, but Canada needed a win (to qualify in 1st place) or a draw (to qualify in 2nd place then face Argentina in the next round). The Chilean team was cheering for Trinidad & Tobago, as a Canadian loss would push them into a semi-final berth!Antoni Kindler was called into action early in the Canadian goal, on a deflection from close range, and Canada were dangerous at the other end following a powerful circle penetration by Matthew Guest, to set the attacking tone of the match. Trinidad & Tobago were first on the scoreboard in the 7th minute on an own-goal by a Canadian defender on a long ball hit in the crowded circle. This set-back triggered an immediate reaction from the Canadians and they forced a penalty-corner but, as seems to be very much a trend on this pitch, could not trap the ball properly.
A long period of Canadian domination followed, but the Trinidadians were doing a good job frustrating them before they reached a shooting position. Trinidad & Tobago were dangerous on swift counter-attacks, forcing Canada to keep some deep defenders. Play was flowing back and forth in an entertaining way, but with no shooting opportunity at either end, until the 21st minute when Iain Smythe managed to find the ball in a goal-mouth scramble and propel it in the roof of the net to level the score at 1-1.With the two teams back on par, Canada seemed to regain confidence and Andrey Rocke in the Trinidadian goal had to manage some hot situations in front of him. Canada expertly defended a penalty-corner with 5 minutes to go in the period and on the next action forced a penalty-corner which they, for once, executed perfectly to take the lead with 2 minutes left in the period. They had time to add a third goal by Matthew Sarmento and went into the break with a two-goal lead (3-1), much to the relief of the home crowd.
Trinidad & Tobago seemed to have lost the spring in their pace at the beginning of second period and Canada were all over the Trinidadian circle, but they could not increase their tally past their two-goal lead, despite some clear chances. That allowed Trinidad & Tobago to progressively come back into their game, with the tireless work of veteran Kwan Browne who seemed to be everywhere on the field, and Canada had to defend a few critical situations.Canada seemed to go back into a defensive shell with ten minutes to go, conceding 3 penalty-corners in a row, and the ghost of the late Chilean comeback hovered on the Canadian side of the pitch, especially when Mark Pearson received a yellow card. The last minutes of the match were all played in the Canadian defensive end, but they held tight to grab the top spot in pool B and a semi-final berth against the USA on Thursday, while Trinidad & Tobago will face Argentina in the other semi-final.
For more information and pictures of CAN vs. TTO, click here.
Match 9 - Brazil vs. Chile: 0-5 (half-time: 0-1)
Brazil have played well in this competition but still lost their first two matches (1-3 vs. Canada and 2-5 to Trinidad & Tobago). Chile started well with a draw against Canada but were surprised by Trinidad & Tobago, conceding a hefty loss (1-5) that forced them to win this last pool match with a wide margin to have a slim chance to qualify for the semi-finals.Both teams started tentatively, possibly because of the strong cold wind sweeping the pitch in this early morning. Chile had most of the ball possession but Brazil was well regrouped in defense around their captain Ernst Rost Onnes, not leaving any space for the Chilean attackers to penetrate the circle. Chile earned their first penalty-corner in the 18th minute and Martin Rodriguez deflected the ball at the right post to open the scoring.
Chile had another penalty-corner soon after and tried a combination on the other side of the goal, but to no avail. The Brazilians did not lose their structure and kept frustrating the Chilean attackers around the circle. They pushed forward in the last ten minutes of the period and forced a series of three penalty-corners, but could not make them count, with 2 big saves by Adrian Henriquez in the Chilean goal.Chile started to show frustration and Brazil had a few late chances, including a penalty-corner on the buzzer, but score did not evolve and the break was reached with a slim one-goal margin for Chile.
Chile knew that they needed to score more goals. They immediately set to the task at hand, and Felipe Eggers managed to pick up the rebound from a penalty-corner originally mistrapped. They added a 3rd goal soon after by Alexis Berczely, again on penalty-corner, and things were suddenly looking brighter for them.Brazil however nearly scored on the next action after stealing a ball from a sloppy defensive clearance, and had a chance on the subsequent penalty-corner, but Adrian Henriquez was again up to the task in the Chilean goal. Chile were more efficient at the other end and scored a 4th goal, once again on penalty-corner, this time by Jaime Zarhi, to push the score to 4-0.
After a 5th goal by Thomas Krussig on penalty-stroke, Brazil had a good reaction and caught the Chilean defense flat-footed to force another penalty-corner, but they still could not convert it. Chile seemed satisfied with the 5-0 scoreline and did not show the same urgency in the final minutes of play. They will have to wait for the results of the match between Canada and Trinidad & Tobago later tonight to know if they are qualified for the semi-finals.