England vs. Malaysia: 2-4 (half-time: 1-2)
England were in a must win situation (then hope that South Africa would not win the following match against New Zealand) but it was the Malaysians, already qualified for the quarter-finals, who were faster off the blocks, peppering Harry Gibson in the English goal and earning a couple of penalty-corners. They scored on their third attempt by Mohd Bin Hashim in the 15th minute and things were not looking good for the English team, unable to untangle themselves from the pressing Malaysian web.
David Goodfield had a good chance for England with a diving deflection but immediately needed to rush back to defend a penalty-corner earned by Malaysia on the counter-attack. The Asian Champions deepened the gap in the 26th minute by Firhan Ashari, but England immediately pulled one back by Luke Taylor with a well-executed penalty-corner.
England were only one goal down going into the break but were facing a steep road ahead to catch up and overtake the Malaysian side, on fire since the beginning of this competition.
England could not capitalize on a penalty-corner early in second period and were immediately punished when Muhammad Bin Baharom scored on the next action after Muhammad Bin Saabah stole the ball from the stick of an English defender. England kept trying but were consistently denied by Hazrul Sobri, in dazzling form in the Malaysian goal.
Fitri Saari scored in 57th minute with a stunning backhand that left Harry Gibson stranded, and there was no coming back for the English side, despite a late goal by Phil Roper and replacing their goal-keeper with an additional field player for a desperate final rush. Malaysia finished comfortably on top of Pool D with maximum points while England had to wait to know if they would finish 3rd or 4th in the group, out of the quarter-finals anyway.
For more information and pictures of ENG vs. MAS, click here.
South Africa vs. New Zealand: 0-1 (half-time: 0-0)
South Africa was in the driving seat at the beginning of the last match of Pool D, needing only to avoid losing to advance to the quarter-finals. The Black Sticks were however decided to try and grab their slim chance but nearly suffered an early set-back when Damian Kimfley missed an incredible opportunity to give the lead to South Africa, receiving the ball in front of the open net and no defender in sight, but somehow missing his deflection.
Play was flowing fast from one end to the other, with New Zealand often creating deep breaches in the South African defense. The African Champions had their best chances on penalty-corners but were denied each time by Ben Smith in explosive form in the Black Sticks goal.
There was plenty of action in the period but neither team had anything to show on the scoreboard for their efforts and the break was reached on a scoreless tie.
Kane Russell gave the advantage to the Black Sticks in the 44th minute with a high drag flick on a penalty-corner and the onus was suddenly on South Africa to urgently score. They came agonizingly close on a penalty-corner that rolled in front of the line before going marginally wide but the New Zealanders were still in control entering the last ten minutes, with the quarter-final prospect looming bigger and bigger.
They could have strengthened their cause on yet another penalty-corner with four minutes to go but it was saved, and the end of match was torrid for both teams and their fans. New Zealand got a late yellow card but hanged on desperately to their one-goal lead to jump into second place of the group, leaving the South Africans rueing their missed opportunities earlier in the match.
For more information and pictures of RSA vs. NZL, click here.
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