It was Group B’s day as all four nations from that half of the draw advanced to the semi-finals, notably sending top seeds China reeling as Scotland picked off a rapturously received victory.
William Marshall’s tap-in sent China hurtling out of contention as previously winless Scotland’s first victory proved vital. Having struggled in their three group games, the Scots produced a supremely organised performance to keep a Chinese attack at bay, unable to break down Graham Moodie’s solid defence.
Yixian Lu and Dan Coultas exchanged penalty corner goals inside the opening ten minutes as part of a lively opening.
After that early exchange, the rhythm of play made way for a tight midfield battle, China edging the possession stakes but scarcely threatening.
Against that back-drop, Scotland burst forward in the 42nd minute to grab the ultimate decider as a right-wing cross skipped through a melee of sticks to find Marshall at the back post and he nudged home unmarked.
From there, China pushed hard but clear sights of goal were not forthcoming as Fulton was not overly stretched. Indeed, Marshall might have settled matters a bit earlier when he flashed wide six minutes from time but it was not necessary as his side held out for a date with France.
The French left it late to break Austrian hearts as Arnaud Becuwe, on his 100th cap, grabbed an equalising lifeline three minutes from time to force extra-time and ultimately victory in the penalty shoot-out.
Tom Genestet held his nerve to round Michael Mantler on the final penalty as the French again recovered a deficit to earn their semi-final tie.
The Austrians got off to the best possible start when Manuel Grandits pounced on a loose Henri-Julien Lhomme touch to a free-hit swept into the danger zone in the sixth minute.
From there, France created plenty of chances, Lucas Sevestre initially missing out from all of a metre on one occasion but the midfielder gained parity from close range in the 28th minute, finishing whilst on his knees.
It looked like they would power on from there but a string of sin-binnings pegged them back. With Fabien Pourcelet sitting out a suspension, Alexander Bele swept home first time for a second lead, profiting from Michael Korper’s steal on the 25.
With France reduced to nine soon after – Fabien Magner, taking his second card of the game and third of the tournament, joined by Valentin Migneau – but Austria only had one chance of note during that time, Georg Jelinek finding Lhomme easily in control.
The hosts kept piling forward and while they were frustrated for a long time, Korper twice clearing and Mantler kicking away a couple of chances, the second equaliser eventually came.
It came from a long corner worked to Yannick Schambert on the edge of the circle, centring first time to the back post where Becuwe was the grateful recipient.
In extra-time, aided by Elmar Streimitzer’s yellow card, France maintained the domination but could not convert any of their three corners. It led to penalties and Grandits’ calm finish initially gave Austria the initiative.
But Lhomme kept a trio out to leave Genestet the chance and he went left and around Mantler for the key goal and the final four place.
On the other side of the draw, a magnificent seven second half goals transformed a reasonably well balanced tie into a rout as Russia cut the Czech Republic apart.
Bursting out of the blocks, captain Alexandr Platonov and Alexander Zhirkov handed their side a 2-0 lead inside four minutes. The Czechs worked their way back into the tie and had a goal back on the quarter-hour when Tomas Prochazka fired home his fourth penalty corner of the tournament.
It set the stage for what could have been a close battle in the second half but the Russians blew the game apart within a three minute spell between the 40th and 43rd minute.
They netted three times during that time, Platonov starting the run, matching Prochazka with his fourth goal of the CCII, before Komarov rounded Tomas Hanus for 4-1 and Ravshanzhon Zakirov banged home the fifth seconds later.
From there, any Czech damage limitation exercises went unfulfilled as Ilya Larikov converted a penalty stroke after Zakirov was taken out by Richard Kotrc.
Komarov’s simple reverse, a Pavel Golubev tap-in and a final hooter Nikolay Yankun drag-flick complete the wash-out.
Completing the line-up, Ireland’s men showed the USA a clean pair of heals to set up a semi-final date with Russia on Saturday, hoping to repeat their 4-0 win from the group stage.
Conor Harte whipped home a fourth minute drag flick to give Ireland the perfect start and bossed the opening quarter before the US found some form. Twin brother David Harte was forced into a couple of smart saves before John Jackson took a Will Holt effort off the line.
But the Americans were stung on half-time as Gareth Watkins’ sharp effort two seconds before the half-time hooter, owing a huge amount to Joe Brennan’s quick-thinking, was a crucial blow.
Joe Brennan netted his first international goal early in the second half before Peter Caruth and Chris Cargo built the lead to 5-0. Tyler Sundeen and Patrick Harris pulled back two corner goals in quick succession around the 55 minute mark but Caruth, the player of the match, nabbed his second to stop the comeback in its tracks.
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