On day 5 at the WorldHockey Olympic Qualifier in Santiago, Great Britain and India confirmed their spots in the Final with wins over Austria and Chile, while Russia beat Mexico to reach the 3rd-4th place game.
Game 13 – Great Britain v. Austria: 4-0 (half-time: 3-0)
Even though the odds were very slim, Austria had mathematically a chance of making the Finals on Sunday. Unfortunately, they immediately found themselves trailing on the scoreboard, after James TINDALL took advantage of some sloppy defending to open the scoring in the 5th minute. Great Britain could even have made a decisive break in the next minute on a penalty-stroke, but Glenn KIRKHAM hit the post.
Great Britain got their second goal anyway soon after by Ashley JACKSON, concluding himself a brilliant individual penetrating run. The Austrian players seemed off their pace in the heat of the afternoon and Great Britain had complete control of the proceedings, although they only scored one more goals before half-time by Richard MANTELL on penalty-corner.
The second half was a fairly impassionate affair. Austria fought harder to contain the British attacks but they had trouble breaking through their defense. Both sides had very few scoring opportunities, and Alistair McGREGOR in the British goal saved brilliantly a couple of Austrian attempts on penalty-corners. Rob MOORE added a goal in the last minute of play, benefiting from a lucky bounce on a defender.
The score ended at 4-0, confirming a spot in the Final for Great Britain with the maximum 15 points for their 5 wins, and in the 3rd-4th place game for Austria.
Game 14 – Russia v. Mexico: 9-1 (half-time: 5-0)
In the next game, Russia were eager to confirm their win of the previous day against Chile and secure a spot in the 3rd-4th place game. They opened their tally quickly, Dmitry AZAROV making no mistake on the first penalty corner of the game. The play became very open, going from end to end in an entertaining way. Mexico could not capitalize on their chances, while Alexander PLATONOV managed to slot a powerful reverse stick shot past Moises VARGAS GARCIA in the Mexican goal.
Mexico fought hard, preventing Russia from taking control of the play, but they could not avoid 3 other Russian goals before half-time by Alexey MAYOROV, Dmitry AZAROV and Timur NIKOLAEV.
The score at half-time was severe for the Mexicans and they immediately closed the gap at the beginning of second half with an opportunistic goal by Pol MORENO QUIROZ taking advantage of a goalmouth scramble. The game then switched quickly from one end to the other, with very little build-up in the midfield. The Russians were more realistic, converting 4 more goals for a final score of 9-1, including 4 penalty-corners. Eight Russian players put their name on the score sheet.
Unless Chile managed to upset India in the last pool game, the win qualified Russia for the 3rd-4th place game, certainly an achievement that very few observers were predicting at the onset of the competition considering that Russia were ranked much lower than the other competitors.
Game 15 – Chile v. India: 1-4 (half-time: 0-3)
The last game of pool play between India and Chile was played once again in front of a large crowd of Chilean and Indian fans. The host team was enthusiastically and faithfully cheered despite their disappointing results in the competition, with losses to Austria, Great Britain and Russia. With the cool air of the evening, the pace was faster than in the previous games and India immediately besieged the Chilean defense, well backed by goalkeeper Mauro SCAFF celebrating his birthday with some stellar saves.
Most of the play was in the Chilean camp, but the Chileans held tight, fighting for all the balls and not leaving the Indians any room. Prabhjot SINGH opened the scoring in the 9th minute, but it took India a long time before they could score again, finally managing two goals in quick succession, first by V.R. RAGHUNATH benefiting from a defensive deflection in their own goal, then a superb action concluded by BHARATH delivering at full speed a shot that left no chance to the keeper.
Chile probably played their best hockey of the week in the second half, not only keeping their opponent off the scoreboard for the longest time but also building some interesting moves of their own. With play becoming more intense, tension building and fatigue kicking in, the two teams were reduced to ten players for a while but no goal was scored until the 61st minute when V.R. RAGHUNATH scored on penalty-corner, increasing his lead in the top scorers table.
Chile were rewarded of their hard work when Felipe MONTEGU scored on penalty-corner, triggering loud cheers from the crowd, but they will be disappointed to play for the 5th-6th place when they started the competition ranked third.
The WorldHockey Olympic Qualifier concludes tomorrow Sunday in Santiago, when Chile meet Mexico for 5th-6th place, Austria take on Russia for 3rd-4th place, and Great Britain and India lock horns in the much anticipated Finale for the coveted ticket for Beijing.
WorldHockey Olympic Qualifier, Men – Santiago, Chile
Results day 5: Saturday 8 March 2008
Great Britain - Austria 4:0 (3:0)
5mn James Tindall (FG) 1:0
12mn Ashley Jackson (FG) 2:0
22mn Richard Mantell (PC) 3:0
69mn Rob Moore (FG) 4:0
Russia - Mexico 9:1 (5:0)
2mn Dmitry Azarov (PC) 1:0
9mn Alexander Platonov (FG) 2:0
18mn Alexey Mayorov (PC) 3:0
26mn Dmitry Azarov (FG) 4:0
32mn Timur Nikolaev (PC) 5:0
39mn Pol Moreno Quiroz (FG) 5:1
46mn Alexander Lykov (FG) 6:1
51mn Alexander Korolev (PC) 7:1
55mn Sergey Spishkovsky (FG) 8:1
62mn Dmitry Volkov (FG) 9:1
Chile - India 1:4 (0:3)
9mn Prabhjot Singh (FG) 0:1
23mn V.R. Raghunath (FG) 0:2
24mn Bharath (FG) 0:3
61mn V.R. Raghunath (PC) 0:4
64mn Felipe Montegu (PC) 1:4
Final Pool Standings: 1) Great Britain 15pts 2) India 12pts 3) Austria 9pts 4) Russia 6pts 5) Chile 3pts 6) Mexico 0pt
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