On the fourth day of pool play in Kuala Lumpur, the first match was big news as Korea dispatched the Netherlands with a convincing 6-2 win. Later, Australia booked another narrow win against Great Britain, Germany kept their perfect record by defeating Spain, and the Malaysian hosts held Pakistan to a draw for their first point in the event.
The Netherlands and Korea started off the day today with a highly entertaining match that was balanced over teh bigger part with the two teams putting away goals in turns, despite the Koreans being slightly more aggressive and more dangerous.
In the 56th minute however, with the score at 2-1 for the Netherlands, Sam Seok Kim´s equalizer opened the flood gates, and the Koreans never looked back. Attacking relentlessly, back-to-back goals from penalty corner specialist Jong Hyun Jang built a two goal advantage for the Asians, and Nam Yong Lee and Joung Goo Kim added two more against the bewildered European Champions to take the total tally to six and have their team overtake the Dutch in the standings.
And it was a match of milestones too, the Netherlands losing by a four goal margin for only the second time in Champions Trophy history, while it was the biggest ever win for Korea. Jong Hyun Jang´s three goals were the first hattrick of the current Champions Trophy tournament, and put him at the top of the scorer list, one goal ahead of previous leader Rob Reckers.
The encounter between Australia and Great Britain followed. From a fiercely disputed match with few highlights, the Kookaburras eventually walked away with three points to claim second place in the standings but in the fourth match in a row, the Olympic Champions have been unable to produce a convincing performance.
A 25th minute goal from Eddie Ockenden, deflecting a long pass from Andrew Smith, was enough for Australia today, but similar performances against their remaining all-European opponents Spain, the Netherlands, and Germany will probably not yield wins as easily.
In the third match, table leaders Germany took on the hapless Spaniards, 7th in the table with only 2 points from 3 matches. From the beginning, the Germans took charge and put constant pressure on a lacklustre Spanish side.
First scoring as early as the 4th minute, the Germans than had to wait until shortly before half-time, adding two more through Matthias Witthaus and Jan-Marco Montag in the 32nd and 34th minute respectively. Three down, the Spanish came out blazing in the second half, looking for their first goal, but the blaze soon fizzled in the face of the clinically efficient Germans, who never exhausted themselves but did just enough to drive home the match.
The ingenious Matthias Witthaus, since yesterday one of the eight nominees for this year´s WorldHockey Player of the Year award, plied on another goal late in the match, and Sergi Enrique finally got the Spaniards onto the scoreboard two minutes later, but that was all the Iberians could manage today. Germany walked away with another three points from this match to keep their perfect record, topping the table with the full 12 points from their four matches.
The day ended with the hosts taking on Pakistan in front of a lively crowd, and the two teams thanked them with an entertaining encounter. In an entirely open first half, the Greenshirts pulled away with goals from Akhtar Ali and Ghanzafar Ali, but Malaysia always looked close on their heels, and were rewarded ten minutes into the second half when Boon Huat Chua converted a penalty corner for Malaysia´s first goal of the match.
Malaysia kept pressuring and got increasinly stronger, making the stadium erupt in cheers in the 63rd minute as Jiwa Mohan deflected a quickly executed free hit into the net after to the loudly voiced dismay of the spectators, another ball in the goal had been deemed no goal by the video umpire shortly beforehand.
Both teams pushed for the winning goal in the final minutes of the match, but neither succeeded, and both walked away with one point. For Malaysia, this is their first point in the tournament, but it does not get them away from 8th place in the standings, while for Pakistan, not winning today seriously harms their chances of grabbing a medal in thsi event.
After day 3, Germany thus still lead the pack, three points clear of the second-placed Australians. Korea´s win against the Netherlands today puts them in third position, just ahead of the Dutch, with Pakistan, Great Britain, Spain, and Malaysia forming the bottom half of the table.
The Samsung Champions Trophy Kuala Lumpur 2007 continues on Wednesday with Great Britain taking on Pakistan, European rivals Netherlands and Germany lock horns, Australia meet Spain, and Malaysia rounding up the day with their encounter with Korea.
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