(Photo: Stanislas Brochier)

Germany vs. Belgium: 1-3 (half-time: 0-1)

The first match up for pool A at the 2013 Hero Hockey Junior World Cup pitted the defending champions, Germany, against the 2012 European Junior champions, Belgium. First half, offensive action favoured Germany despite a 1-0 tilt for Belgium entering the break.

Belgium keeper Arnaud Flamand made three key saves in the opening frame after a wave of Germany attacks, starting with a near-side save on striker Jonas Gomoll, who redirected a paced pass from team mate Niklas Bruns. In the 26th minute Flamand denied a point-blank shot from Jan Nitschke to keep the game scoreless.

Against the flow, a high press from Belgium forced a turnover deep in Germany’s end. The resulting shot by Maxime Capelle ricocheted past Germany keeper Mark Appel to lift Belgium up 1-0 in the 30th minute. Germany had a chance to equalize in the final minute of the half but Bruns’ close-range deflection went just wide of the open net.

In the second half Germany dominated midfield play, pacing Belgium from sideline to sideline but were unable to find fortune in the circle. Belgium’s speed and tenacity frustrated Germany and they were finally rewarded. Cappelle tallied his second of the match after a quick run down the right side of the pitch. His resulting sweep pass across the circle hit a Germany defender and trickled across the goal line to lift Belgium by two.

Germany’s Christopher Ruhr finally broke Flamand’s chance of a shutout finishing on a broken penalty corner in the 62nd minute to cut Belgium’s lead to one. Germany pushed up to try and make a late comeback but Alexandre van Linthoudt dealt a silencer in the 70th minute to give Belgium the 3-1 final score and their first three points in their 2013 Hero Hockey Junior World Cup campaign.

For more information and pictures of GER vs. BEL, click here.

Pakistan vs. Egypt: 3-2 (half-time: 2 - 0)

Pakistan opened their World Cup quest against relatively unknown Egypt, the lowest ranked team in the competition. It only took them four minutes to take the lead by Muhammad Irfan, left unmarked on the post with plenty of time to pick up a penalty-corner rebound and slot it in goal behind Wael Noureldin in the Egyptian goal.

Pakistan appeared satisfied with this early lead and started playing with seemingly little urgency, keeping the Egyptians at bay and circulating the ball in midfield. They scored again in the 30th minute by Ammad Shakeel Butt and walked into the break with a modest 2-goal lead but a total grasp on the proceedings.

The same scenario prevailed in second period, with Egypt trying hard and Pakistan not forcing their talent to stay in control of the match. The Egyptians were rewarded for their tenacity in the 60th minute when their captain Ahmed Mohsen scored a well taken penalty-corner, closing the gap to one goal.

Egypt started to believe that they could level the score, while the Pakistanis had trouble shifting up their pace. Amazingly, the Egyptians forced another penalty-corner and once again slotted it cleanly through the Pakistani defence, this time by Mostafa Mansour! This equalizing goal triggered joyful scenes in the Egyptian camp, with all players on their knees kissing the turf.

This was obviously not the script that the Pakistanis were expecting, but they managed to score a deciding goal in the final minutes of the match by Muhammad Tousiq, salvaging the 3 points of the win, although their pride might have been dented by this narrow escape.

For more information and pictures of PAK vs. EGY, click here.