On day three in the men's tournament, Spain and China started off the programme. Spain struggled against a fiercely determined Chinese team, but eventually took the win with a late goal from Pol Amat. The Netherlands took to the field against Canada in the second morning match and leisurely produced their third win in a row, maintaining their perfect record.
In the evening, New Zealand produced a good performance to defeat Belgium, while Germany could only manage a draw with Korea, meaning that New Zealand have leap-frogged them in the pool table. Australia and Pakistan played out an entertaining contest, with the Kookaburras fighting back from a goal down to win 3:1. In the final match of the day, Great Britain took the points against South Africa, winning 2:0.
Spain defeat China 2:1 (1:1)
Spain struggled to earn their third win of the tournament in front of a surprising Chinese team.
China started the game as usual at a high pace, boosted by the boisterous home crowd support. As was already the case in their two previous games, they scored the opening goal, this time on a 6th minute penalty-corner flicked low by Captain Yi SONG but deflected out of reach of the Spanish keeper by Yubo NA, his third goal of the Olympic competition.
Spain then pushed up the pace and were rewarded in the 17th minute when Xavier RIBAS low flick finally hit the target after a series of unsuccessful attempts. They kept pushing but could not increase their tally, consistently denied by a confident Chinese team that was prompt to take advantage of some sloppy Spanish plays to create dangerous opportunities.
Despite having most of the ball possession, the Spaniards struggled in second half, committing unusual errors in front of a Chinese team playing way above their current 17th world ranking. The last minutes of the game were torrid, with both teams desperate to score the winning goal. China came close on a penalty-corner that ended up in a furious scramble in front of the goal, but it was finally Pol AMAT who relieved his team in the 67th minute with a decisive run in the circle and a shot from close range that left no chance to the Chinese goal-keeper.
With this third win, Spain have nearly booked their semi-final berth but they won’t be happy with their inefficiency and their difficulty to take control of a game against a much lower ranked opponent. China can be disappointed to have no point to show for their first three games, but their confidence is building quickly and they are certainly impressing the hockey observers.
Netherlands defeat Canada 4:2 (3:1)
In the second match of the morning session saw the Netherlands take on Canada for their third match, and the Oranjes didn't waste any time in demonstrating their intentions: two Taeke Taekema goal in the first eight minutes, one from a penalty corner and one from a penalty stroke, put the Dutch in a comfortable position.
The prospects for Canada looked bleak but they fought hard to come back in the game. Mike Mahood was oustanding in goal for the North Americans once again and prevented the score from escalating, while Ranjeev Deol up front put Canada on the scoreboard with the finishing touch on an acrobatic volley from Sukhwinder Singh.
The remainder of the first half saw Holland put on a lot of pressure but Canada had their opportunities too. More than twenty goalless minutes were eventually broken by the unstoppable Taeke Takema, who completed a hat-trick with a penalty corner goal shortly before the break.
Roderick Weusthof piled on another goal from a penalty corner midway through the second half, as Canada was struggling to repell the rolling Dutch attacks. Despite a yellow card for Anthony Wright for being too vocal about a few umpires' decisions, the Oranjes could not score any more goals however, while Ravi Kahlon managed to get one back for Canada six minutes before the end, deflecting a Marian Schole reverse stick hit into the net.
But that was all the Canadians could do. The match ended 4-2 for the Netherlands, a flattering score line for Canada after a difficult start. Netherlands seemed content with the win and not too bothered with the score, but were also repeatedly denied by an imperial Mike Mahood in the Canadian goal.
The Netherlands are now at the top of the table with three wins from as many matches, at least until Australia take to the field this evening. Roelant Oltmans' side is thus likely to be one of the two teams from pool B to go through to the semi-finals, needing only one point from their remaining two matches to confirm their spot in the top four.
The defeated Panamerican Champions on the other side are still without a point after three matches, and will be hoping to be able to turn their good performances into actual points in their remaining encounters with Great Britain and South Africa.
New Zealand defeat Belgium 4:2 (3:0)
New Zealand inflicted a 4-2 defeat on the Red Devils today to keep themselves in the running for a spot in the semi-finals.
Belgium looked good at the beginning of the match, the more dynamic team in an encounter of then equal opponents. But a double hit from Simon CHILD, with two goals in under a minute, midway through the first half dealt a blow to the Belgian aspirations that they never really recovered from.
Gareth BROOKS piled on another before the break, diving to deflect a Ben COLLIER reverse stick shot past Belgian last man Cedric de GREVE. Three goals down now, Belgium went into halftime with a steep mountain to climb in the second half.
Ten minutes into the second half however, they took their first step as Jerome DEKEYSER scored with a great reverse stick hit from a narrow angle. His goal made his side grow in confidence, and they attacked desperately, trying to take advantage of the growing number of mistakes their opponents committed.
But the next goal came again from New Zealand, as Shea McALEESE effectively put his side out of reach with a reverse stick shot from the top of the circle with ten minutes to go. Gergory GUCASSOF was able to sink a penalty corner with an expert flick in the dying minutes of the game but it was too late.
New Zealand won the game deservedly, riding through the second half on the merit of their first half efforts, and closed in on the table top to keep themselves in the running for a place in the semi-finals.
On the other side, it was a disappointing result for Belgium, who came to Beijing with high hopes and have been playing really well, able to keep up with absolute top sides like Spain and Germany, but do not have much to show for it for the moment, hovering in fifth place in the table with only one point.
Australia defeats Pakistan 3:1 (1:1)
Australia secured yet another win but had to fight back from a goal down to defeat Pakistan 3:1. The result means that, after three games, Australia are still to drop a point at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
The Green Shirts took a shock lead when Shakeel ABBASI brilliantly touched in a cross from the left wing past Kookaburras goalkeeper Stephen Lambert in the 16th minute. A minute later, Pakistan’s Muhammad WAQAS saw yellow, and Australia took full advantage of the extra man thanks to Grant SCHUBERT’s powerful equaliser in the 20th minute. The teams went into half time with the scores tied, which was a fair reflection of an exciting first half of attacking hockey in which both sides had plenty of chances. Jamie DWYER – a constant threat for the Kookaburras throughout the game – tapped in a penalty corner six minutes after the break to give his side a crucial lead. Travis BROOKS grabbed Australia’s third with a smart deflection before both Muhammad SAQLAIN and Waqas AKBAR both received yellow cards for foul play.
Australia took the victory and look strong favourites for the semi finals.
Korea draw Germany 3:3 (1:1)
The final game in pool A today got off to a fast-paced start and never really relented much, both teams going all out to bag a crucial win.
Korea took a step ahead early when Woon Kon Yeo converted a penalty corner awarded after Sebastian Biederlack had been forced to use his body to block a shot on goal from Sung Hoon Yoon, but the joy was short lived: Philip Witte sank the equalizer soon after, taking advantage of a quickly executed free hit for the one all half-time score.
After the break, Matthias Witthaus brought the World Champions ahead, to which Korea responded with a goal from penalty corner ace Jong Hyun Jang, but Christopher Zeller wasted no time to re-store the lead.
Yellow cards for Tibor Weissenborn and Yong Bae Kim reduced the game to ten against ten, and with more space, Korea managed anothe equalizer as Jong Ho Seo scored a beautiful goal off a Woon Kon Yeo pass.
That was the end of the scoring for the match, even though both teams kept trying in this hotly disputed final phase of the match. How hotly disputed is evidenced by another pair of yellow cards, shown simultaneously to Florian Keller and Jong Hyun Jang in the last minute of the match.
The teams thus split the points, a result that does neither of them much good but helps New Zealand: while Germany and Korea remain in third and fourth place in the standings respectively, New Zealand hold on to their second place for the time being. Pool A really is turning into the pool of death, with five teams still mathematically able to reach the semi-finals after three rounds of play.
Great Britain defeat South Africa 2:0 (1:0)
South Africa remain without a point in Pool B after falling to defeat against Great Britain. The result puts GB third in the table, having claimed six points from their three games so far at Beijing 2008.
Great Britain were the dominant force in the early stages of the game, with Ben HAWES and Ashley JACKSON both having good scoring opportunities. The match really swung in the favour of GB in the 12th minute, when Austin SMITH – who plays his club hockey in England for Reading – crashed into GB goalkeeper Ali McGREGOR, receiving a yellow card for his troubles. GB took the lead in the 20th minute, when James TINDALL intercepted a pass between the South Africa defenders, charged towards goal and delightfully chipped the ball over Christopher HIBBERT and into the net. South Africa, though were not without their chances, with Emile SMITH forcing a good save from McGREGOR in the 27th minute.
GB dominated the early stages of the second half, but South Africa came close to equalising in the 60th minute when Marvin HARPER brilliantly collected a rising pass but missed the ball completely when attempting to shoot. Had he connected the score would surely have been level. Eventually though, Great Britain made the points safe with a 66th minute goal from Matt DALY, who slammed into the corner following superb build-up play down the right from GB captain Ben HAWES.
Great Britain will be hoping to keep up the good work when they face Canada on Sunday, while South Africa have a difficult game against Pakistan.
2008 Olympic Games, Men – Beijing, China
Results Friday 15 August
Spain - China 2:1 (1 :1)
CHN Yubo NA (PC) 6mn
ESP Xavier RIBAS (PC) 17mn
ESP Pol AMAT (FG) 67mn
Netherlands - Canada 4:2 (3:1)
NED Taeke TAEKEMA (PC) 4mn
NED Taeke TAEKEMA (PS) 8mn
CAN Ranjeev DEOL (FG) 12mn
NED Taeke TAEKEMA (PC) 33mn
NED Roderick WEUSTHOF (PC) 49mn
CAN Ravi KAHLON (FG) 64mn
Belgium - New Zealand 4:2 (3:0)
NZL Simon CHILD (FG) 19min
NZL Simon CHILD (FG) 20min
NZL Gareth BROOKS (FG) 30min
BEL Jeroem DEKEYSER (FG) 43min
NZL Shea McALEESE (FG) 60min
BEL Gregory GUCASSOF (PC) 69min
Pakistan – Australia 1:3 (1:1)
PAK Shakeel ABBASI (FG) 16min
AUS Grant SCHUBERT (FG) 20min
AUS Jamie DWYER (PC) 41min
AUS Travis BROOKS (FG) 59min
Korea - Germany 3:3 (1:1)
KOR Woon Kon YEO (PS) 5min
GER Philip WITTE (FG) 17min
GER Matthias WITTHAUS (FG) 40min
KOR Jong Hyun JANG (PC) 46min
GER Christopher ZELLER (FG) 47min
KOR Jong Ho SEO (FG) 52min
South Africa – Great Britain 0:2 (0:1)
GBR James TINDALL (FG) 20min
GBR Matt DALY (FG) 66min
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