Defending champion Australia awaits India in the semi-finals
Australia – England 2-0 (1-0 halftime)
Host Australia kept its hopes alive to win its fifth consecutive Champions Trophy title after earning a berth in the semi-finals with a 2-0 win over England. Australia will take on India in Saturday’s semi-final game. The Aussies have lost only twice against India in 11 Champions Trophy meetings, with the last defeat coming in 2002.
Jamie Dwyer showed that he is still among the world’s elite players when his reverse shot broke the Aussies onto the scoreboard 15 minutes into the game. It was a frantic pace that followed, but neither team was able to score through the rest of the half as the tournament had its fourth 1-0 score at the half on Quarterfinal Thursday.
The teams came out from the break and picked up right where they left off with dangerous scoring chances and fast feet. But again, despite the action, the goals were at a premium. It wasn’t until Christopher Ciriello stepped up and fired in a textbook penalty corner goal that the Aussies were able to build on their lead. It was the first game since the tournament opener that Australia netted more than one goal in a game.
England put in a gutsy effort after the Ciriello marker, but Australia their offense stalled against a strong Australian team.
Saturday’s semi-final game will be a meeting of two teams with very different fortunes at the Champions Trophy. Australia now has the chance to go for its sixth-straight medal at the Champions Trophy and an unprecedented fifth-straight gold medal at the event. They will take on India, who has just one bronze in their Champions Trophy history which was won in 1982.
The loss puts England out of the medal race at the Champions Trophy for the second consecutive year (the team played as Great Britain at the 2011 edition). The English will take on Belgium on Saturday to determine which team will play for fifth place and which will play for seventh.
India – Belgium 1-0 (1-0 halftime)
After sitting out of the Champions Trophy for the last six editions, India’s grand return to hockey’s top stage continued as they earned a spot in Saturday’s semi-final where they will take on the winner of the Australia v. England quarterfinal. India’s earned its spot after a nail-biting 1-0 win against a persistent Belgium team in an entertaining quarterfinal meeting.
The Indians will go for their first Champions Trophy medal since 1982 and are guaranteed their first top-four finish since 2004. A massive success considering the fact that the Indians came into the even as the lowest team in the FIH World Ranking, weighing in at #11.
Nithin Thimmaiah gave India the early advantage after getting a perfect feed from Sardar Singh for the easy 1-0 tap in. Belgium slowly gained momentum as the half wore on and gave the Indians some worrying moments late in the half with two good penalty corner chances, but ultimately, India escaped the half with the slim 1-0 lead.
The second half, it was India’s turn to own the momentum, but they simply couldn’t convert their chances into goals, as the tension built with only one goal separating the teams. Belgium had a handful of later penalty corner opportunities, while the Indians had a speedy counter attack, but neither team managed to put a dent in the scoreboard as Thimmaiah’s goal stood as the lone marker in the critical quarterfinal game.
Belgium is still looking for the elusive first victory at the Champions Trophy. The newcomers have put in some strong performances, but own a 0-4 record so far. The Belgians will look to get the first win in the placement round.
Note: Today marked Sardar Singh’s 150th international cap for India.Back