Saturday was Semi Finals day here in Vienna, with Belgium and Italy producing sterling performances to fight their way past the respective challenges of Chile and Belarus to reach Sunday's Final.
Belgium grabbed a 1-0 victory over Chile in the first Semi Final, before a golden goal gave in the second period of extra time gave Italy a stunning 3-2 triumph over Belarus. Incredibly, both Belgium and Italy were runners up in the Pool phase of the competition, overcoming teams that were Pool winners.
Belgium were the first team to book their place in the tournament final when they overcame a strong challenge from a Chilean team that have greatly impressed onlookers during this tournament. A solitary goal was enough to give Belgium the win, with Jill Boon's 63rd minute field goal settling a contest in which both teams produced outstanding defensive displays. For Chile, it was only the fifth goal that they had conceded all tournament, but they could not find a way past a well-drilled Belgian defence that has been breached on only four occasions in their five matches so far. Chile were handed a lifeline with just three minutes remaining when Belgium's Gaelle Valcke was given a yellow card, but the Europeans exhibited even more top class defending to confirm their place in the tournament final. Due to heavy rain the match was suspended 14 minutes from the end due to pitch flooding, causing a delay of 30 minutes before the game was eventually re-started.
The second semi final was played in much sunnier conditions, and was packed with drama as Italy overcame their Semi Final opponents Belarus courtesy of a golden goal from Agata Wybieralska in the second period of extra time. The result was even more remarkable by the fact that Italy were 2-0 down after just ten minutes, with Nastassia Shcharbakova and Hanna Zabrotskaya firing Belarus into the lead. However, two goals in three minutes just before half time pulled Italy back into the match, as Alessia Padalino hit a field goal and a penalty stroke from team captain Francesca Faustino levelled the scores at 2-2. With no further goals in the match, the game went to extra time. After a goal-less first period it seemed that the match was destined to go to the lottery of penalties, but Agata Wybieralska’s last gasp penalty corner strike sent the Italy team into delirium.
The results from Saturday's matches have confirmed the line-up for what is being billed Super Sunday in Vienna. The action begins early with host nation Austria looking to claim that elusive first win by defeating Canada in the battle for seventh place at 09:00 CEST (GMT +1). That match is followed by Russia versus Malaysia, who go head to head to decide the 5th and 6th places at 11:30.
The Bronze medal match will begin at 14:00, with Chile and Belarus aiming to bounce back from their defeats today by finishing the tournament on a high. The tournament will finish on a high with the Gold medal match, as Belgium and Italy take to the field at 16:30.
FIH Champions Challenge II (Women) 2011
Vienna, AUSTRIA, May 7-15, 2011
Saturday, May 14 - Semi-Final Results
Match 19: 15:00 SF Chile v. Belgium 0:1 (0:0)
Match 20: 17:30 SF Italy v. Belarus 2:2 (2:2) 3:2 AET
Sunday, May 15 - Super Sunday Fixtures
Match 21: 09:00 7/8 Canada v. Austria
Match 22: 11:30 5/6 Russia v. Malaysia
Match 23: 14:00 3/4 Chile v. Belarus
Match 24: 16:30 Final Belgium v. Italy
All times listed are Central European Time (GMT +1).
To see the full tournament details, click here.
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