USA produced another good performance to defeat France 7-0, while Belgium beat India 3-2 in an entertaining encounter. In the final match of Day 3, Netherlands Antilles secured all three points against Russia.
Match 07 – USA 7, France 0
USA recorded their second 7-0 win in two matches with another strong performance, with France being the unlucky side on the receiving end. The result gives them three wins from their first three games, and surely marks them as the team to beat at this tournament.
The first half saw France frustrate USA with some good tackling and solid defensive work, but USA were guilty of missing some good opportunities to score. In the tenth minute, Angela LOY celebrated what she believed to be the opening goal, after tapping in a penalty corner, but umpire Carolina de la FUENTE disallowed the goal for an infringement. It was LOY again who was in the thick of the action four minutes later when she picked the ball up in front of goal, but with no pressure from France defenders proceeded to put the ball wide of the target. Eventually though, the constant pressure being applied on the France goal paid off, when Kate Barbour smashed a shot into the corner after wonderful play from Tiffany SNOW down the left. USA were far more clinical in the second half, and registered three goals within five minutes. The first came from a well taken Tiffany SNOW penalty corner, before Keli SMITH deflected another set piece routine into the roof of the goal. Angela LOY then added goal numbers four and five with two field goals. Melissa LEONETTI struck a glorious field goal in the 69th minute, but still had time for the outstanding Rachel DAWSON strike a penalty corner inside the right post. It was another impressive performance from USA, but they know that they have some tough games ahead of them, with India and Netherlands Antilles being their next opponents. France will face home favourites Russia in their next fixture.
Match 08 – India 2, Belgium 3
Belgium came from behind to defeat India 3-2 in a fiercely contested match, a result that keeps alive their chances of reaching the tournament final on Sunday. Despite losing their opening match of the tournament against USA, the side now how two wins under their belt, putting them in a strong position before their final two round-robin matches. The result makes qualification for the final increasingly difficult for India, who now face the very real prospect of not having either their men’s or women’s teams at the Beijing Olympics.
Belgium got the perfect start when Charlotte de VOS managed to find a way under India goalkeeper Dipika MURTY with less than 25 seconds played. India were clearly stunned, but aimed to hit back immediately, putting the Belgium goal under a great deal of pressure. The equaliser arrived in the 13th minute, when Suman BALA fired a penalty corner past Belgium keeper Elizabeth ACHTEN. Three minutes later India took the lead, when Ritu RANI got on the end of a cross from the right to deflect into the goal. At this point India had control of the game and continued to create great chances in the run up to half time, with Rosalind RALTE and Pritam SIWACH both having good opportunities. Belgium seemed to be out of it, but in the 47th minute of the game they grabbed an equaliser through Astrid VERVAET, who smashed a lose ball into an open goal as India failed to clear. This was a huge boost to Belgium, who went in search of a winning goal. In the 58th minute it duly arrived, with Gaelle VALKE crashing home a reverse stick strike just as it seemed the ball was going to run away from her. India knew that they had to give it everything to rescue a game that they really should have won, but could not find an equaliser.
Belgium face Netherlands Antilles in their next match, with India having a tough game against USA.
Match 09 – Netherlands Antilles 3, Russia 1
Netherlands Antilles made hard work of beating a Russia 3-1, but the victory moved them level on points with USA at the end of Day 3.
It took just two minutes for Netherlands Antilles to open the scoring, when Pauline ROELS finished well, and at that point many suspected that the in form side would win this match by a vast margin. However, that was far from the case as Russia produced possibly their best display of the tournament so far. Netherlands Antilles went 2-0 up in the 13th minute through Sanne VAN DONK, but struggled to break Russia down for the rest of the half. In the 25th minute, Irina KUZMINA pulled a goal back for Russia, sparking the biggest cheer of the day from the home supporters. However, the class of Netherlands Antilles was always clear to see, and it was surely only a matter of time before they would break through and score more. In the 52nd minute, Floortje JOOSTEN struck from a penalty corner to give Netherlands Antilles a 3-1 advantage. Russia work hard to get back into the game, but Netherlands Antilles never looked likely to concede further goals. Netherlands Antilles have two tough games ahead of them, facing in-form Belgium and USA. Russia face France in their next fixture.
Tomorrow is a rest day, with play resuming on Thursday 24th April.
Match 10 – 12:05: Belgium v Netherlands Antilles (local time)
Match 11 - 16:05: USA v India
Match 12 – 18:05: France v Russia
For official match sheets and live commentaries from the games, please visit the FIH tournament microsite.
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