Korea vs. Netherlands: 2-3 (half-time: 2-2)
Both teams having won their match on opening day, this was a crucial encounter for the lead in Pool C. The Netherlands were first on the scoreboard in the 4th minute, when Thierry Brinkman was on hand in front of the keeper to deflect a perfect pass drilled into the circle by Pepijn Luijkx.
Korea forced a penalty-corner soon after but their ace-striker You Seungju was this time slightly off target. They were more successful on their next attempt in the 17th minute, thanks to a deflection by Seo Inwoo just in front of the keeper.
Korean custodian Lee Seyoung maintained his team afloat with a series of saves, including a formidable double-save on Dutch shots from very close range, but he could not do much on a low strike by Tristan Algera in the 25th minute. Not to be outdone, You Seungju scored in the next minute at the other end, also on a penalty-corner, and the match was back to square one going into the break with the teams tied at 2-2.
The Netherlands jumped back into the lead early in second period when Milan Van Baal, left unmarked in the circle, pounced on a ball that seemed to be going wide and coolly redirected it in goal under the incredulous eyes of the grounded Korean keeper.
This seemed to take some wind from the Korean sails and the Netherlands controlled play for a while, creating dangerous chances but without getting an insurance goal. Korea had a last chance on a penalty-corner earned on a video-referral, but Piet Noordam in the Dutch goal was up to the task, preserving the narrow lead for a precious win that put the Netherlands solidly in control of Pool C and book them a quarter-final berth.
For more information and pictures of KOR vs. NED, click here.
Match #12 (pool C) - India vs. Canada: 3-2 (half-time: 1-1)
Both teams were under pressure to win in order to keep a chance to make it through to the quarter-finals after losing their opening match. India were possibly under additional pressure to perform in front of the home crowd and were immediately put on the back foot by some bold Canadian attacks. The very vocal crowd was silenced in the 3rd minute when Canadian captain Sukhi Panesar collected a rebound from the post to slot it in goal.
That of course triggered an immediate reaction from the Indian players and they pushed forward to besiege the Canadian goal. Play stayed confined in the Canadian 25m for a while, but the Indian forwards were too much in a hurry and rushed many of their actions, missing the final touch on goal.
Kevin Pereira, in goal for Canada today, saw plenty of action and stood his ground superbly, frustrating some of the Indian attempts from close range. India had a series of penalty-corners but Pereira saved the first one and the second went wide. Canada were still clinging to their lead in the 30th minute, when Mandeep Singh was finally on target on a penalty-corner option to tie the score going into the break.
Both teams had chances early in second period, with a crossbar saving Canada on the first Indian action. The young Canadians were however playing much better than in their opening match against Korea, revelling in the fiery atmosphere and the fast and furious pace.
India were unable to penetrate the compact Canadian defense and were equally unsuccessful on a penalty-corner. Canada were more efficient at the other end and Gordon Johnston silenced the crowd again on their first penalty-corner of the match to regain the lead in the 51st minute.
This was not the scenario that India were expecting and frustration started to show. They tied the score in the 57th minute with a sneaky deflection by Akashdeep Singh, but the crowd wanted more from the local boys, setting the stage for a torrid end of match.
Both teams threw caution to the wind in the final minutes of play, with action flowing rapidly from one end to the other. Canada were saved once more by a desperate save by Kevin Pereira, but had to concede defeat in the final minute on a penalty-corner earned from a video-referral and dutifully converted by Gurjinder Singh.
India earned the 3 points for the win but certainly did not reassure their fans on their potential in this competition, while the Canadians were able to leave the pitch with their heads high after an excellent display, rewarded by the Man of the Match Award going to their goal-keeper Kevin Pereira.
For more information and pictures of IND vs. CAN, click here.
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