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Ciriello strikes late as Kookaburras take glory in Antwerp

July 5, 2015
Over-time penalty corner drag-flick sees off Red Lions

A dramatic late goal form Chris Ciriello gave Australia a 1-0 win over host nation Belgium to secure a first place finish at the FINTRO Hockey World League Semi-Final in Antwerp.

Ciriello - who scored a hat-trick in the final of last year’s Rabobank Hockey World Cup - struck with a blistering overtime penalty corner drag-flick to give the Kookaburras a hard-earned win in a fantastic and hugely competitive match with the Red Lions.

Despite the defeat, it was a memorable day for Belgian captain John-John Dohmen, who played his 300th game for his country and was also named FINTRO Best Player. Australia’s Blake Govers, who celebrates his 19th birthday on Monday, was named as the HERO Best Young Player and also took the HERO Top Scorer Award with seven tournament goals. Ireland’s David Harte was named FINTRO Best Goalkeeper.

It was a thrilling end to a stunning two weeks of hockey in Antwerp, an event which has seen big crowds enjoy watching some of the world’s finest teams compete for the chance to reach the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

In the 3-4 play-off match, team captain Barry Middleton celebrated his 350th international appearance with a goal as Great Britain powered to a convincing 5-1 win over India to claim third place. Australia, Belgium and Great Britain all achieved Olympic qualification at the event in Antwerp, with fourth placed India having already booked their Olympic ticket last year thanks to their triumph at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, Korea.

Earlier in the day, Ireland’s Green Machine increased their chances of becoming the first Irish team, in any sport, to qualify for the Olympics since 1948 by claiming a fifth place finish with victory over Malaysia. Ireland will have to wait until the completion of this year’s Continental Championships before they find out if they have done enough to earn their ticket to Rio.

In the 7-8 play-off match, goals from Simon Brisac-Martin and Hugo Genestet helped France to a 2-1 victory against Pakistan.

More information on the final standings, player awards and the day’s matches can be found below. 


Final Standings: 1. Australia 2. Belgium 3. Great Britain 4. India 5. Ireland 6. Malaysia 7. France 8. Pakistan 9. Poland 10. China

Individual awards:
FINTRO Best Player Award:  John-John Dohmen (BEL)
HERO Best Young Player Award: Blake Govers (AUS)
FINTRO Best Goalkeeper Award: David Harte (IRL)
HERO Top Scorer:  Blake Govers (AUS) - 7 goals

1-2: Australia 1-0 Belgium
A dramatic late goal form Chris Ciriello gave Australia a 1-0 win over host nation Belgium to secure a first place finish at the FINTRO Hockey World League Semi-Final in Antwerp. Ciriello - who scored a hat-trick in the final of last year’s Rabobank Hockey World Cup - struck with a blistering overtime penalty corner drag-flick to give the Kookaburras a hard-earned win in a fantastic and hugely competitive match with the Red Lions.

Despite the defeat, it was a memorable day for Belgian captain John-John Dohmen, who played his 300th game for his country and was also named FINTRO Best Player. Australia’s Blake Govers, who celebrates his 19th birthday on Monday, was named as the HERO Best Young Player and also took the HERO Top Scorer Award with seven tournament goals. Ireland’s David Harte was named FINTRO Best Goalkeeper.

Belgium came out firing at the start of a pulsating match, with a huge, largely Belgian crowd watching on in delight as Australian goalkeeper Andrew Charter was forced into action on numerous occasions. The Kookaburras defence, marshalled by 2014 FIH Player of the Year Mark Knowles, held firm before an evenly contested but feisty second quarter ended goal-less.

The Australians had the better of the third and fourth quarters, with Red Lions keeper Vincent Vanasch making a brilliant reaction glove save from a Kiel Brown snapshot before a top class penalty corner block in the final minute in the match ahead of the most dramatic of finishes. With four seconds of the match remaining, a smart video referral from Jamie Dwyer resulted in a penalty corner with four seconds of the match remaining, with Chris Ciriello sending a rocket flick into the goal to win the match.

“It was a great flick”, said Australia captain Mark Knowles after the match. “We put him under a lot of pressure and him, Blake Govers and Kieran Govers in this tournament have been really good. We want guys to step up at big moments and that was a really big moment, so well done to Chris for that.”

Belgian talisman John-John Dohmen said: “It was a really nice game. It has been a good tournament for us and for Australia as well, they had a really good game and their victory is well deserved. We tried everything, but we had a good tournament and that is the main thing.

3-4 Play-off: Great Britain 5-1 India
Barry Middleton celebrated his 350th international appearance with a goal as Great Britain powered to a convincing 5-1 win over India to claim third place at the FINTRO Hockey World League Semi-Finals.

“It’s been a good week”, said team captain Middleton, reflecting both on his milestone and the crucial fact that his team achieved qualification for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games here in Antwerp. “Obviously it is nice to get 350 caps, but this was all about qualifying for the Olympics. Once we had done that, we had the chance to show how good a team we are. We did that against Australia without getting the win, but we wanted to finish the tournament off properly today and I think we went and did that.”

Great Britain soaked up some Indian pressure early on before snatching an early lead through Alastair Brogdon got a crucial touch on Dan Fox’s backhand strike from a second phase penalty corner.

Chris Griffiths doubled the advantage in the second quarter with an instinctive touch from a superb Nick Catlin pass before GB produced a rampant third quarter performance to effectively kill the contest, with Ashley Jackson, Adam Dixon and Middleton taking the score to 5-0.

India scored a consolation in the final minute thanks to Rupinder Singh, who sent a low drag-flick past goalkeeper James Bailey, who replaced George Pinner four minutes earlier.

“I think we started very poorly and gave GB too much of an advantage,” said India captain Sardar Singh. “We are playing with a new strategy and it took some time to adjust, but we have some young players who have done very well playing against higher ranked teams and learned a lot.”

5-6 Play-off: Ireland 4-1 Malaysia
Ireland kept their Olympic dreams very much alive with a 4-1 victory over Malaysia. The Green Machine got off to the best of starts with two quick goals from Kyle Good and then Peter Caruth, and despite a Malaysia fightback, the Ireland team remains on course to be the first team, in any sport, from Ireland to qualify for the Olympics since 1948. 

Good's goal was created by Caruth, who cracked the ball into the circle for Good to deflect past Roslan Jamaluddin in the Malaysia goal. Caruth then scored a goal of his own – a scorcher from the top of the 'D'. 

The second half saw Chris Cargo come tantalisingly close to adding to the Ireland scoreline with a full-length dive onto a crisp pass. Jamaluddin breathed a sigh of relief as the ball whizzed past post and player. 

Ireland's third, and the goal that gave Ireland a comfortable cushion, was scored by Alan Sothern. He picked out a flying ball from Michael Darling and directed it past the oncoming 'keeper.

Ireland survived five penalty corners in the last 10 minutes, but on the sixth attempt, Faiz Jali found the net with a deflection past Harte. With just 40 seconds left on the clock, Ireland made it four, with a breakaway goal from Michael Darling.

"We will be watching all the other results in the Continental Championships to see if we are going to Rio," said Harte, speaking after the game.

7-8 Play-off: Pakistan 1-2 France
"A bit of French flair", was the verdict of Francois Sheefer, as 18th-ranked France outplayed their higher-ranked rivals, Pakistan (10) to record a seventh place finish at the FINTRO Hockey World League Semi-Final.

France took the lead through Simon Brisac-Martin after Martin Genestet ran the ball behind the Pakistan defence and slipped to his teammate.

Pakistan nearly got back into the game when Muhammad Ali flicked the ball past the French 'keeper Martin Zylbermann but Muhammad Waqas just failed to connect.

Moments later there was high drama as Mazhar Abbas in the Pakistan goal came out of his area and fouled the Brisac-Martin. Abbas was dismissed from the field of play in his first appearance at the tournament.

France doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time through Hugo Genestet. His shot rattled off the post into the goal.

The Greenshirts reduced the deficit through a fantastic reverse stick shot from Toseeq, but the flurry of Pakistan attacking play was too little, too late.

"We wanted to finish well and show what we are capable of," continued Sheefer after the game. "It is what is expected of us I think – sometimes we can play brilliantly, sometimes not so much, it is like our rugby and football teams."

 

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