After an indifferent start to the tournament, Germany moved into semi final contention on a sometimes controversial day five at the Samsung Hockey World Cup in Madrid.
Victories to Germany and the Netherlands, along with England’s dramatic draw with India, combined to further complicate the make up of Pool A.
An opening day loss to Spain and a late winner against India placed Germany under pressure to perform against China today, however the reigning Olympic and Champions Trophy gold medallists responded well with a strong second half effort to end their opponent’s semi final hopes and boost them into second position on the Pool A points table.
After neither team could find the net, Germany opened a comfortable lead in the second half which sent the world number five crashing to a third straight loss and virtually out of World Cup medal contention.
While they look a team on the improve, Germany’s task becomes increasingly tougher in their final two preliminary round matches to complete the group stage, with England and the Netherlands ahead.
Germany’s first goal against China was the 50th of the tournament and came in the 18th match at an average of 2.78 per match.
While there was no doubt about Germany’s victory, the main talking points of the day came from the second match between England and India, with two goals disallowed – one to each team – creating a tense and at times unstable atmosphere.
In a continuation of the previous history between the teams, the match was full of controversy, desperation and drama, with the ‘non’ goals the focal points of discussion to leave both coaches extremely unhappy at full time.
England had enough opportunities to win the match but coach Danny Kerry conceded that his team squandered a number of penalty corner chances.
The ignition point in the match came at the stroke of half time with an India goal awarded and then reversed after consultation between the umpires. The incident occurred just seconds before half time and was the final play of the opening 35 minutes, with both teams heading into half time.
India coach MK Kaushik claimed his team did not know the goal was disallowed and only learned of it after the break, but the umpire clearly gave a signal prior to leaving the pitch for half time to indicate a free hit to England for a raised stick by India to play the ball – and not a goal.
An animated half time discussion resulted with India vigourously protesting the decision but when half time resumed, the score remained at nil-all
A goal to each team set up an exciting finish before the second disputed decision late in the match.
The goal was this time initially awarded to England but was reversed after consultation with the video umpire less with than three minutes to go.
At the top of Pool A, the Netherlands avoided any hint of controversy in the opening match and sit comfortably atop Pool A after a win over Spain.
A third straight win for the Dutch takes them to the brink of the semi finals. They never looked in serious danger of losing the match today with Spain content to defend and rely on their counter attacking ability.
However an early goal to the Netherlands made it difficult for the home team and they only had a handful of scoring chances throughout.
After three completed rounds, the tournament is at a delicate stage with the semi final chances of most teams still in the balance. The Netherlands (Pool A) and Australia (Pool B) are the clear favourites to advance from each group, but behind them, a group of challengers are jostling for positions.
A number of possibilities are still available with none of these bunched teams looking to be a definite starter in the medal matches.
Pool B is back in action with Australia having a great chance to qualify for the semi final with a victory against Japan.
In the Pool’s other matches, USA play South Africa and Argentina face Korea in a crucial clash.
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