Hot on form and riding on Nam Yong Lee’s second hat-trick of the tournament, Asia’s number one side Korea overpowered New Zealand's Black Sticks 4-3 in a thrilling match to win the inaugural London Cup in front of a full house at the University of Westminster Sports Ground in Chiswick.
Moon Ki Yoo’s side went into half time with their noses in front and Player of the Tournament Nam Yong Lee ensured there was no slip-up as the fiery Koreans bagged the trophy in a goal fest.
The first half began on a slippery note as both teams tried to adjust to the wet conditions and it was New Zealand that drew the first blood in the seventh minute as Simon Child’s quick strike gave them the lead. Despite going behind, Korea controlled the first half from thereon, playing attacking hockey as the Kiwis struggled to match pace.
It was tournament’s leading scorer Nam Yong Lee who opened the scoring for the Koreans in the 22nd minute deflecting the ball into the net from a pass. And in the space of a minute, Korea were ahead; Suk Hoon Chu scoring through a quick strike from open play.
Both teams failed to convert the penalty corners that came their way during the first 35 minutes. While the Kiwis wasted two opportunities, the Koreans failed to find the net on three occasions. The second half began with New Zealand upping their pace in pursuit of an equaliser but Nam Yong Lee scored again in the 48th minute to put the Koreans ahead by two goals.
A comedy of errors in the Korean circle saw their defenders failing to clear the ball after the Korean goalkeeper Jae Hyeon Kim had saved the first shot which gave New Zealand player Stephen Jenness the opportunity to reduce the deficit in the 55th minute. The goal inspired the pumped up Kiwis as they pressed hard for an equaliser, which came through penalty corner strike from Shea McAleese eight minutes before the final hooter.
It then looked as if the grand finale was headed for penalties but the tournament’s star player Nam Yong Lee was in no mood for that lottery. Returning from a green card suspension, he stole in unmarked by the New Zealand defence and netted a spectacular goal from open play in the 65th minute to seal a well-deserved victory for the Koreans. Korea coach Moon Ki Yoo was a happy man at the press conference and said the team did a spectacular job after the opening day loss. He said, "The first loss to New Zealand was obviously a dent to our confidence but overall I was pleased with team form and how they had progressed through the tournament."
Man of the match Nam Yong Lee felt the tournament was an ideal preparation for the Olympics and thanked the English crowd for supporting the Asian side. “In preparation for the Olympics I will try my best and if they get to the Olympics I will hopefully score a lot of goals.... I would like to add that I was very pleased that a lot of the English supporters were cheering for Korea!"
Earlier in the day, England rounded off their London Cup campaign with a 4-2 victory over Belgium. A frustrating first half saw England create chances but two Belgian goals from Renaud Pangrazio and Tom Boon left the English support fearing the worst. However, a resurgent second half performance saw England net five times without reply. Loughborough Students’ Iain Lewers swept home his first goal for England before James Tindall twice, Barry Middleton and Mark Pearn all netted to give England a 5-2 win.
More information about the tournament can be found on the England Hockey website by clicking here.
London Cup - Final Day Results
3rd place Play-Off
|Iain Lewers 38 (PC)||Renaud Pangrazio 4 (F)|
|James Tindall 39, 61 (PC, F)||Tom Boon 32 (PC)|
|Barry Middleton 42 (F)|
|Mark Pearn 47 (F)|
|Nam Yong Lee 22,48,65 (F,F,F)||Simon Child 7 (F)|
|Suk Hoon Cho 23 (F)||Stephen Jenness 55 (F)|
|Shea McAleese 62 (PC)|
2: New Zealand
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