China and Korea have reached the final of the AtaHolding Champions Challenge in Baku, Azerbaijan. China comprehensively beat England 4:1 in the first match of the day, and Korea confirmed their place in the final thanks to a 3:1 win over New Zealand. In the last game of the day, USA defeated Azerbaijan 2:1, completing the pool match section of the tournament. USA will face England to determine who will finish in 3rd place, while Azerbaijan and New Zealand will feature in the 5th / 6th place play off match.
China 4 defeated England 1
Goals: CHN: REN Ye PC 13m, MA Yi Bo (PC 16m / PC 33m), FU Bao Rong FG 26m.
ENG: Alex DANSON FG 61m
China booked a place in the final of the AtaHolding Champions Challenge with a comprehensive victory over England.
England started the game with intent, and tried to force China to play deep in their own half. However, China used this to their own advantage, staging numerous counter-attacks and creating many chances. China opened the scoring in the 13th minute through REN Ye, deflecting in the first penalty corner of the game thanks to a good flick pass from MA Yi Bo. The second goal followed just three minutes later, when MA Yi Bo got on the score-sheet herself with a drag-flick. FU Bao Rong made it 3:0 when she picked up a lose ball and put it into the bottom corner, despite a good initial save from England’s Becky DUGGAN. FU Bao Rong completed the China scoring two minutes from the end of the half with another penalty corner drag flick, leaving England with a huge second half task to get something from the game.
However, an England resurrection never looked likely, with China happy to keep possession and forced England to do all of the running in soaring temperatures. Alex DANSON eventually scored for England in the 61st minute, deflecting a shot from Crista CULLEN into the roof of the net, but it is China who will be playing in tomorrows’ final.
Korea 3 defeated New Zealand 1
Goals: KOR: Jong Eun KIM FG 24m, Seul Ki CHEON (PC 30m / FG 69m)
NZL: Honor DILLON FG 5m
Korea defeated New Zealand in the second game of the day, securing a place in tomorrow’s final against China. The result means that New Zealand will play Azerbaijan in the 5th / 6th place play-off.
New Zealand started the game very brightly, and scored an early goal in the strangest of fashions. Honor DILLON got a touch in the circle sending the ball towards goal at snails pace, but the Korean players reacted too slowly as the ball bounced off the post and into the goal. Korea always looked likely to get back into the game, and did so in spectacular style. In the 24th minute, Jong Eun KIM surged into the circle before firing an unstoppable shot into the bottom left corner which gave New Zealand keeper Beth JURGELEIT no chance. Korea’s second goal came from a penalty corner, with Seul Ki CHEON’s drag-flick showing pin-point accuracy to find the roof of the net just before half time.
New Zealand continued to play some attractive hockey in the second half, but even when Mi Hyun PARK received a yellow card reducing her team to 10 players, they could not take advantage. Seul Ki CHEON eventually scored Korea’s third goal of the match in the 69th minute, when she found herself with time and space to put the ball into the bottom corner of the goal.
Korea will need to be on top form if they are to avenge their defeat at the hands of China earlier in the tournament.
USA 2 defeated Azerbaijan 1
Goals: USA: April FRONZONI FG 43m, Lauren CRANDALL PC 64m
AZE: Inoyathon JAFAROVA PC 38m
USA got a deserved win over a spirited Azerbaijan team in the last game of day 5. Despite the good result for USA, it did not affect their fate, but their higher league status may give them a psychological advantage over tomorrow’s opponents England in the 3rd / 4th place play off.
The first half produced no goals, although the USA were certainly the dominant force. April FRONZONI wasted a good opportunity early on, when she could not get her shot on target with just the keeper to beat. It was Azerbaijan who took the lead in the 38th minute, thanks to an impressive penalty corner from Inoyathon JAFAROVA, but USA were soon back on level terms when FRONZONI tapped in from close range on 43 minutes. USA continued to put pressure on the Azerbaijan defence, and eventually the pressure told when Lauren CRANDALL scored from a penalty corner. During the last six minutes of play, Azerbaijan pushed hard for an equaliser, but USA secured the victory and finished the pool stages on 10 points.
For more information about these matches, please visit the tournament website: www.ataholdingchampionschallenge2007.sportcentric.com
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