Saturday, August 4, 2012

Spain get the better of South Africa

South Africa vs Spain 2-3 (1-1 half-time)
Spain kept their hopes outside hopes of reaching the semi-finals alive as they netted their first win of the campaign, all but condemning South Africa to the minor placings.In a lively clash, South Africa hit the front first through Justin Reid-Ross but Marc Salles, Pau Quemada and Miguel Delas replied to put the game out of reach despite Lloyd Norris-Jones late goal. 
The Spanish began the game with just 14 outfield players at their disposal as injuries to Santi Freixa and Pol Amat meant they could only call upon reserve goalkeeper Xavier Trenchs to fill their bench. Sergi Enrique’s suspension curtailed their numbers further. And things looked to be going further against them when Reid-Ross got the first of three corner goals in the game in the 26th minute.
It was heavily deflected as his drag-flick first clipped the sole of an airborne Alex Fabregas’ shoe before bouncing into the ground viciously, eventually going in off Francisco Cortes’ shoulder. Spain, though, got back on terms five minutes later. Carlos Ballbe won a corner with his run down the right wing, a move only denied by Rassie Pieterse’s excellent stop but the aftermath bounced off a foot. From the resulting set-piece, Quemada pushed for the right post where Marc Salles slid in to ramp the ball past the defender on the post.
Ballbe was again the creative influence for the go-ahead goal, haring down the right wing and laying up for Quemada to scramble over the line. The third goal was similar in making to the first, a corner variation that Miguel Delas slid onto, using the grip of his stick to find the left corner. The goal was awarded after an umpire’s referral. It looked set to see Spain over the line from what has been a tough start to their campaign but South Africa made them sweat as Ian Haley pounced on a Spanish miscontrol and back-hand the ball to Norris-Jones who coolly finished off.
They threw everything forward in the closing stages but found the going frustrating and now have to focus on getting something from games against Pakistan and Argentina if they are to move up in the group. Spain, meanwhile, have Argentina next and then Great Britain in their final four bid.
(Stephen Findlater)

 Great Britain vs Pakistan 4-1 (2-0 half-time)
Ashley Jackson produced a master-class to help propel Great Britain into a strong position in Group A with an all round display of class and guile. His two corner goals capped a performance around the field that blew Pakistan away, his turn of pace creating a string of problems.
James Tindall got Britain off to the flyer when Harry Martin got through down the right. His cross-shot was just about intercepted by Imran Shah but he could not get enough on it to escape the lurking Tindall who latched onto the loose ball and slammed home from a tight angle on the reverse. Jackson almost had a second soon after only to see Rashid Mehmood brilliantly take the ball out of the top corner in the fifth minute as the hosts started brilliantly.
The half’s main talking point, though, was a bizarre green card situation. Muhammad Waqas was green carded but Pakistan ended up with eleven still on the pitch that umpire Marcelo Servetto spotted soon after. Sohail Abbas was made to join Waqas on the sideline for the technical foul.
Pakistan did come back into the tie but GB extended their lead in pristine fashion. Jackson cut in from the right wing with an exquisite turn before laying off to Nick Catlin running diagonally to the right. His movement opened space to square into the path of Jonty Clarke to gleefully finish off. 
After an initial Pakistan burst, the second half proved a more languid affair as Jackson netted penalty corner flicks in the 50th and 67th minutes – the first was a low bullet the second hitting the rafters of the goal. Sohail Abbas did get one back, his 347th international goal, in the final seconds but James Fair denied a couple of earlier efforts just after the break which could have put the game in the balance.
It elevates Britain to seven points; only second to Australia in the pool rankings on goal difference while Pakistan remain on four points in third place.
(Stephen Findlater)

Charlier cracker hands Belgium first win

Belgium vs Korea 2-1 (0-0 half-time)
Cedric Charlier’s sparkling goal handed Belgium their first win of the Olympic Games Pool B, putting a major dampener on Korea’s hopes of reaching the final four. It came in the final quarter after Hyun Woo Nam’s penalty corner had cancelled out Tom Boon’s opener 90 seconds into the second half.
Plenty of late drama ensued as three yellow cards were dished out in the final minute and Vincent Vanasch was forced to save a series of shots in a final flurry of action. Holding on for the win, it pushes Belgium up to fourth in the standings with New Zealand and India to play. Jerome Dekeyser produced the highlight of the first half with a rasping strike that crashed against the inside of the post, agonisingly rebounding across the face of goal in the sixth minute.
It was a half that promised much but goalmouth chances were at a premium. The second half was those come in abundance, the first ballooning Tom Boon’s way from a crash ball and he swung out a volley that delicately wrong-footed Myung Ho Lee from a tight angle. Nam levelled with a low corner drive but his side will rue their inability to capitalise further from their volume of corners in the latter stages. Number one Jerome Truyens blocked one spectacularly while a couple went off target to keep Belgium on terms.
Alexandre de Saedeleer did similarly well to pressurise Kang Moon Kweon who somehow manages to screw a close range shot wide in the 56thminute. It proved a huge let-off as, soon after, Charlier scored the goal which had the Belgian fans singing down the Olympic walkway. He had already beaten a couple of defenders before his shimmy wrong-footed another couple, finding the space to roof a sweep-shot on the dive over Myung Ho Lee’s shoulder.
They had to live on their wits for the closing ten minutes as Jeffrey Thys, Xavier Reckinger and Nam Yong Lee all saw yellow while Oh Dae Keun – on his 100th cap – and Cha Jong Bok drew saves from Vanasch for a big win for the lowlanders.
(Stephen Findlater)

Germany vs. India: 5-2 (half-time: 4-1)
Germany overwhelmed India to cruise to a comfortable 5-2 win.
They were immediately threatening and PR Sreejesh, in the Indian goal today, was called into action in the opening minute. Both teams seemed inspired and willing to play attacking hockey, and India had a good chance when SV Sunil ran the whole length of the pitch and delivered a perfect cross that just eluded Shivendra Singh in front of the German goal.
Florian Fuchs drew first blood in the 8th minute when he pounced on a loose ball in the circle, turn swiftly and beat PR Sreejesh from close range. Sandeep Singh had a chance on penalty-corner soon after but his low flick was well handled by Max Weinhold in the German goal. Germany managed to keep the fast Indian attackers at bay until the 13th minute, when a penalty-corner taken by VR Raghunath cleanly beat Weinhold. The German response was immediate and they re-established their lead, once again by Florian Fuchs, coolly batting in goal a high rebound from the Indian goalkeeper.
Germany took control of play, circulating the ball around the Indians in midfield, and PR Sreejesh needed to stand tall, but he could not prevent a third goal by Oliver Korn, lodging the ball in the roof of the net from a narrow angle. The Indians seemed deflated by this additional goal, as well as overwhelmed by the constant pressure applied by Germany on their midfield, and Germany scored a fourth goal before half-time by Christopher Wesley, putting the fate of the match somewhat out of doubt.
Florian Fuchs completed his hat-trick in the first minute of second period and things were starting to look seriously bleak for India. They had a chance on penalty-corner but Max Weinhold once again read well the flick by Sandeep Singh, not looking at his best since the beginning of the competition. India had a good reaction mid-way through the period but could not increase their tally, even on another penalty-corner, weakly executed.
India scored a second goal by Tushar Khandker and seemed to wake up in the final minutes, but it was too little too late and Germany controlled the end of the match, cruising to a comfortable win (5-2), their third win in so many matches, to join The Netherlands at the top of Pool B, leaving India still pointless in the competition.
(Yan Huckendubler)

Netherlands vs. New Zealand: 5-1 (half-time: 3-1)
New Zealand surprised the Dutch with an early Simon Child goal, but The Netherlands replied with five unanswered goals to stay on top on Pool B with their third win in so many matches.
New Zealand started with a bang, Simon Child opening the scoring within 5 minutes of play to give an early lead to the Kiwis. Sander De Wijn thought that he had equalized in the next play when he deflected in goal a Teun De Nooijer shot that was going wide, but the video-referral showed that he had played the ball with a high stick and the goal was denied.
On a penalty-corner earned by Robbert Kemperman in the 15th minute after a long run through defenders, Roderick Weusthof’s flick was well saved by Kyle Pontifex in goal for New Zealand but a stroke was given on the play and Weusthof did not miss his second chance to tie the score at 1-1.
Play was fast and physical between these two athletic teams, and Billy Bakker earned another penalty-stroke, this time converted by Mink Van Der Weerden to put The Netherlands back on top. The Dutch deepened the gap soon after by Billy Bakker, on hand to deflect in goal a shot by Rogier Hofman who had just run 50 meters with defenders on his heels. The Netherlands had another chance to score on a last second penalty-corner, but the wild goalmouth scramble was finally cleared and the score stayed at 3-1 for The Netherlands going into the break.
New Zealand were again fast of the block in second period and had a chance by Stephen Jenness, but Jaap Stockmann in the Dutch goal was ready for his sudden shot. Play became more structured, with each team enjoying longer periods of ball possession to develop their attacks and produce exciting end to end hockey. Jenness had another golden opportunity when he received a cross from Simon Child alone in front of the keeper but he could not adjust his reverse stick shot.
Billy Bakker did not waste the next chance at the other end when he received a deep ball at full speed to score his second goal of the match, establishing a seemingly insurmountable 4-1 lead for The Netherland. Robbert Kemperman added a fifth and final goal and The Netherlands rolled in to their third win in so many matches to stay on top of pool B.

(Yan Huckendubler)