Germany – New Zealand 3-2 (3-0 halftime)
World #1 and Olympic champion Germany had its hands full in the second half, but ultimately survived a scare against New Zealand in a 3-2 win. The Germans came to Australia with young squad full of new faces, and the inexperience caused them some tense moments late in the game as New Zealand applied heavy pressure. But ultimately, the 3-0 lead that the Germans built in the first half was enough to weather the New Zealand storm.
Germany took the quick 1-0 lead after being awarded a penalty corner just 24 seconds into action. Tobias Matania easily converted the chance, giving the Germanys the early advantage. The lead doubled 20 minutes later when 18 year-old Jan Christopher Ruehr had a dream start to his international career, scoring on a breakaway to net his first goal in a German jersey. Oliver Korn slammed in the 3-0 goal less than two minutes later in the first-half Germany show.
After a quiet start to the second half, New Zealand broke onto the scoreboard on its first penalty corner chance of the game when Matt L’Huilier converted the chance with 14 minutes left in the game. The Black Sticks had the opportunity to pull to within one just a few minutes later, but failed to capitalize on its second penalty corner as Nicolas Jacobi came up with a big save to keep the two-goal lead. New Zealand poured on the pressure in the late stages of the game, but Jacobi was the man of the hour and kept the Germans in the lead.
Nicholas Wilson pulled the Black Sticks to within one with five minutes left in regulation with a breakaway field goal, making for a dramatic conclusion. But the first half-deficit proved to be too much for New Zealand to overcome as Germany hung on for the 3-2 win.
England – India 1-3 (1-1 halftime)
The 2012 Champions Trophy had its first major upset on the last game of opening day when #11 India topped fourth-ranked England in a 3-1 decision. India won over some fans in Melbourne after scoring a pair of acrobatic, highlight reel goals in the victory.
It was a game with no clear rhythm or momentum as the teams traded sporadic chances that were few and far between.
England took the 1-0 lead 15 minutes into the game on its first penalty corner chance when Richard Smith flicked the ball into the back of the net. Four minutes later England goaltender George Pinner came up with a huge save on India’s first short corner opportunity. Danish Mujtaba made up for the missed chance with 13 minutes left in the first half when he scored on a diving effort to tie the game at one.
Dark skies loomed over the stadium in the second half, but India’s chances quickly looked bright after Yuvraj Walmiki scored what can only be described as a jaw-dropping goal to give the Indians their first lead of the game three minutes into the second half. The goal gave the Indians a little spring in their step as they were the better team in the second half, though only by a slim margin in the evenly-balanced affair.
Sadar Singh sealed the win with four minutes left in regulation when his penalty corner shot bobbled its way into the net for the critical 3-1 goal. There was little England could to in the waning minutes, but watch the clock tick down as India pulled off the upset.
Australia – Belgium 4-2 (2-0 halftime)
In a mirror image of the earlier game between Germany and New Zealand, Host Australia had to hold off a second-half surge from Belgium to survive its first outing at the 2012 Champions Trophy. Ultimately, the Aussies earned the 4-2 win, keeping the Melbourne fans happy and the defending champions in a better position to make it five-in-a-row at the annual event.
Australia was the clearly the better team for the 70 minutes, but a two-minute lapse nearly cost them dearly as Belgium’s Sebastien Dockier fired in two markers to make it a one-goal game in the opening moments of the second half. The comeback cost the Australians both mental and physical energy as they were forced to turn their game up a notch to survive the Belgian scramble.
Early on, it looked like it would be all Australia as they wasted no time getting on the board, taking the 1-0 lead just four minutes into action. On the second Aussie penalty corner chance, the ball ended up loose in the crease and bounced right onto the stick of Glenn Simpson, who scored the early marker.
Eventually Jacob Whetton doubled the Australian lead with six minutes left in the half. The second effort goal came on Australia’s third-straight penalty corner chance in a three-minute span.
The second half opened with a flurry of activity as three goals were scored in a three-minute span. Australian Russell Ford thought he had set the tone with his streaking goal just over a minute into action giving the Aussies a solid 3-0 lead, but it would last for less than a minute as Dockier put in his first of two rapid-fire goals to put the Australians on their toes. Dockier deflected the ball in on the 3-1 goal and then was in perfect position to fire in the 3-2 goal 45 seconds later.
After the excitement, things came to a screeching halt on both sides of the field until Chris Ciriello put in the critical 4-2 goal on a penalty corner to give the Australians some breathing room. Ciriello suffered a broken nose early in the game after getting hit with the ball, but returned to action in the second half to emerge as the game's hero.
Netherlands – Pakistan 3-1 (1-1 halftime)
The third-ranked Dutch had their hands full against #9 Pakistan in today’s 2012 Hockey Champions Trophy opening game in Melbourne. In the end, a strong second half from the Netherlands powered them through to the 3-1 win.
It was a sluggish start for both teams in the first half, as they spent much of the time in the neutral zone with the scoring chances few and far between. It wasn’t until Pakistan’s Muhammed Waqas made a diving goal 17 minutes into action that both teams shook off the cobwebs and turned it up a notch.
The Dutch put in the equalizer on a penalty corner opportunity when Sander de Wijn scored with four minutes left in the half. The goal would prove to the start of a flurry of penalty corner chances for the Dutch, who settled into a good rhythm after netting the equalizer.
de Wijn doubled the lead 10 minutes into the second half on another clean penalty corner goal as Pakistan looked more and more outmatched the longer the game went on. With 14 minutes left in regulation Jereone Herzberer put in the insurance 3-1 marker to life the Dutch to the victory in their first outing.
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